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‘Mama Nyandeng' Says She Has Reconciled With South Sudan's President Kiir

FILE - Rebecca Nyandeng, the widow of late former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang, addresses mourners during the funeral service in Juba, August 6, 2005.

A well-known South Sudanese politician who a few months ago had called on government soldiers to lay down their weapons saying that would leave President Salva Kiir with no power, said Monday she has reconciled with the president.

Rebecca Nyandeng, widow of South Sudan founding father John Garang and former adviser on gender affairs to the president, told South Sudan in Focus that in a meeting in Kamapla last week between her, President Kiir, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and former detainees, she and Kiir agreed to seek a solution to South Sudan’s political crisis.

Nyandeng said it was Kiir who asked for a reconciliation with her.

“For me, a reconciliation between me and him; we don’t have any problem; our problem is how we can rescue people of South Sudan. It needs all of us to come together so we can see how we can mend the fence,” Nyandeng told South Sudan in Focus.

Nyandeng said despite her new relationship with Kiir, she will not return to the country until all of its political forces are reunited.

Asked about the terms of her reconciliation with Kiir, Nyandeng responded, “President Kiir called me mom, and if President Kiir call me ‘mom,’ then I am the mom of all people of South Sudan. If I am the mom of the people of South Sudan, I will not leave them out; I want everybody to be included. I want peace, comprehensive peace,” she said.

Asked how she will convince the doubting Thomas’ of South Sudan who only believe she has reconciled with Kiir if they see her in Juba, Nyandeng answered with a question of her own: “When they were doubting, what happened to them? Jesus Christ appeared to them!"

Pressed on when she will return to the South Sudanese capital, Nyandeng said, “When Jesus Christ appear to me, that is when I will be going back to Juba.”

Nyandeng said she wants her people to be reunited. “I want them to come together, and I pray for that. We need to see that all the people who are aggrieved come to the table," she adds.

Nyandeng said South Sudan is her country and wondered “why should I not go back?”

"Mama Nyandeng," as she is known in much of South Sudan, added, “I will not leave all those children outside. What am I going to do with the big son when the younger children are outside the country?”

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon