South Sudan on Thursday marked its fourth anniversary as a nation in its own right amid ongoing violence and fear. Since late 2013, when clashes began between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and those serving his rival former Vice-President Riek Machar, thousands of people have been killed and more than 2.25 million have been forced to flee their homes, according to United Nations statistics.
South Sudanese refugees living in the fast-expanding Nyumanzi camp in northern Uganda told The Niles what they want from their leadership in troubled South Sudan.
"Do I even have the right to say a word? Won't I get killed or arrested? All I can say is that I don't care about who leads anymore, all I want is a good life. I am tired of loosing my people, property and always being on the move from place to place seeking refuge. I love my country and I wish it the best."
"Good governance is what I want. Good schools, health and water and not a name of a leader."
"If I say Salvar Kiir should rule, Machar will keep fighting and if I say Machar rules, who knows, Salvir Kiir may also take arms and enter the bush to fight Machar off the top seat. All I want is peace, I don’t want to take sides because am not a tribalist. I love all the leaders as long as they advocate for peace."
"What South Sudanese need is rehabilitation not just power struggles and leadership. But from what I see here in the camp, a majority of youth don’t want to work or develop, even if there are opportunities. If there be a new government then they should focus on programs that teach the citizens skills.
To me, this is what matters, not the leadership."
Cde. Matthew Dobuol, General Secretary, SPLM-IO Mission to the United States.
"The current regime is on the brink of failure. The Juba regime has failed the people of South Sudan from day one when it started to massacre innocent civilians...There will be no election under his leadership and if that happens I definitely wouldn't come back for it as I'm a target due to my ethnicity. The current regime is a Dinka regime. It does not represent the diversity of South Sudan."
"I don't like the current government but I can't say why because I don't want to get a bullet in my head."
James Faisal Ajak
"Even after these two leaders have killed many people and left me and my people roaming here in the camps, I can't say they should not lead. As long as they resort to peace, let them lead. I just want peace."