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S. Sudanese students welcome Kiir's apology, demand accountability.

January 13, 2016 (NAIROBI) - South Sudanese students in Kenya have welcomed president Salva Kiir's recent apology over the deadly conflict that erupted in the country killing thousands of people, but demanded accountability for those responsible.

President Salva Kiir addresses the nation at the South Sudan National Parliament in Juba, November 18, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Jok Solomon)

A dispute in the country's ruling party (SPLM) sparked off the conflict.

Last week, however, the South Sudanese leader publicly admitted his role in failing to address a situation that plunged the young nation into violence.

But Dak Both, a former South Sudanese students' leader in Kenya welcomed president Kiir's move to acknowledge his error during the war.

"Yes, we applauded him for shouldering political and legal responsibility as an incumbent president of the country. He has finally swallowed his pride by admitting all the disgraceful acts committed during the war. This latest victory did not come in cold blood," Both told Sudan Tribune Wednesday.

"And now that he heeded to our demand and responded accordingly, we ungrudging accept his apology for it purposely serve as an acknowledgement and affirmation of reality that he is personally responsible for massacres, destruction of properties and massive displacement of 2.5 million of the populace by the virtue of the office he held, either by his acts of commission or omission," he added.

According to Both, the president's apology was a gateway for the establishment of the Hybrid Courts to investigate those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 21-month long conflict.

"First and foremost, we certainly believe this public apology will boost and enhance the work of the prosecutors and Judges of the South Sudan Hybrid courts which is scheduled to commence as soon as the transitional government of national unity is formed," stressed he ex-student leader.

Buay Kuai, a student in Kenya, told Sudan Tribune it was time to face the rule of law, cautioning people not to view the president's apology as cowardice, but as a way to bring accountability to perpetrators of the conflicts.

''You cannot change the wind [but] change the scene. Accepting this apology should not be viewed as cowardice but rather a showcase of bravery and patriotism both for us and the apologiser," said Kuai.

By requesting for forgiveness, he added, the president wants justice to prevail.

The president's rare apology, analysts say, is a step forward for justice and accountability in the nation and would ensure trust among the South Sudanese population, who are deeply divided by the nearly two year conflict.

An African Union Commission of inquiry into the South Sudanese conflict faulted both warring factions for having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflict that pitted forces loyal to president Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.

(ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Jan 14, 2016
Words:481
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