Salva Kiir Mayardit
President of the Republic of South Sudan
Salva Kiir was born on or around 1951 in Bahr el Ghazal and little is known about him until he joined the southern Sudan separatist army called Anyanya in the 1960s. He continued to fight with them until, in 1972, the Addis Ababa Agreement was signed at which point he joined the Sudanese Army. He is known to be a Dinka and a committed Christian.
By 1983 troubles had broken out once more and he joined up with John Garang as a founder member of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) which fought for the separation of south Sudan from the north.
By 2005 the international community had brokered a new deal called the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and John Garang was made a Vice President of Sudan. However, just three weeks later he died in a helicopter crash and Salva Kiir took over as leader of the SPLM and subsequently as Vice President of Sudan and President of South Sudan.
Since 2005 he has steered his people to a successful referendum on Independence. In 2010 he was elected for the first time as president of South Sudan and on 9th July, when independence was formally declared, he became the first president of the new Republic of South Sudan.
Little is known about his personal life, but he is married to Ayendit with grown up children. There are reports that his eldest son John converted to Islam in Khartoum on the day of independence for the new state. Salva Kiir is described as ‘not an intellectual’ who is easily bored by long speeches.