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Biar Ajak apologizes to Kiir for 2022 ‘drunk’ comment

Biar Ajak apologizes to Kiir for 2022 ‘drunk’ comment
Peter Biar AjakPhotographer: Majak Kuany/AFP via Getty Images

Political activist Dr Peter Biar Ajak has apologized to President Salva Kiir for “drunk” comments he made against the head of state in 2022.

On April 28, Kiir traveled to Nairobi where he joined others to mourn former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki’s funeral prayers.

However, he was unable to address the gathering due to an alleged throat issue. Instead, he delegated his Cabinet Minister Dr. Martin Elia to speak on his behalf.

While explaining why Kiir could not address the mourners, Biar told Kenyan television, KTN, that the president was “drunk”, sparking outrage.

In a public apology letter dated May 2, 2023 and addressed to Kiir, Biar says he intentionally made the remarks to “hurt you”.

“I wanted you to feel the same pain I felt. I wanted you to understand how much it hurts,” writes the political activist, whom the government jailed for nearly two years for suggesting a “generational exit” strategy for liberators.

“But hurting you neither healed me nor brought me satisfaction of any kind. And while relatives and friends implored me to retract my statement, my pride and anger prevented me.”

On January 2, 2020, the South Sudanese government announced through a presidential decree run on state media that Biar was among dozens of prisoners being pardoned. He was released from prison on January 4, 2020. 

Biar was studying for a PhD when arrested on July 28, 2018 when he was on his way to Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, to hold a youth forum. 

While in prison, he was accused of inciting an uprising behind bars and threatening the security of the state.  He was later sentenced to two years in prison in 2019. 

“I know the anger towards me is great and I will completely understand it if you find it difficult to afford me the benefit of your mercy. All I can do is to acknowledge my error, beg for compassion from Your Excellency and hope that your heart will not remain hardened against your son forever,” he adds.

Biar’s statement on KTN had led to the summoning of Kenyan ambassador to South Sudan and a letter of protest handed over to the Kenyan ministry of foreign affairs.

The media outlet also expressed an apology to Kiir and the government.

“Sir, on behalf of the Standard Group PLC management and employees, I take this early opportunity to sincerely apologize to you personally for the agony and anguish our mistake has caused you, the government and the people of South Sudan,” the apology letter signed by KTN editor-in-chief, Ochieng Rapuro, read in parts.

 About six months after his release, Biar fled to the United States, accusing Kiir of ordering him killed or abducted in Kenya – an allegation Juba rejected. He currently lives in Washington DC with his young family.