Salva Kiir Mayardit (born 1951) is the President of autonomous Government of Southern Sudan and the successor to the post of First Vice President of Sudan, following the death of John Garang in a crash on 30 July 2005. A founding member of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), he was chosen by the SPLA leadership to continue the peace process that formally ended the Second Sudanese Civil War in January 2005. Like Garang, he is of the Dinka tribe, which is the most numerous in the south, but is from a different clan.
In the late 1960s, Kiir had joined the southern rebels in the First Sudanese Civil War. By the time of the peace deal of 1972, he had become an officer in the rebel forces and found a position in the regular army. When John Garang joined an army mutiny that he had been sent to quell in 1983 in Bor, Kiir joined with Garang to found the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and rose to head its military wing, the SPLA.
Kiir was involved in the early stages of negotiating the peace treaty that ended the civil war and is well-known to northern politicians. His selection by the SPLM leadership to succeed Garang was seen by analysts as a clear signal that they intended to keep the peace process on course, despite Garang's unexpected death. Kiir is speculated to be more in favour of South Sudanese independence, as opposed to autonomy within a federal Sudan, than was Garang. Because of his support for Southern independence he enjoys massive support from the population of Southern Sudan. He was sworn in as a Vice President of the Government of Sudan on 11 August 2005.