By Dr Lako Jada Kwajok,
Oct 06, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Last weekend, the South Sudanese people went to their beds stunned by president Kiir’s decree announced over SSTV. It amounted to a bombshell that caught everyone including his supporters off guard. Its effect is still reverberating across the whole political spectrum in South Sudan. What president Kiir did is a clear violation of the peace agreement as the power sharing at states level is based on the current 10 states. It’s also a violation of the transitional constitution of the republic of South Sudan ” TCoSS ” as the president has no power to create new states. There was absolutely nothing in the course of events that pointed out, even remotely, to the possibility that such a development could happen. It is even more likely that some of his close allies in the government were unaware of his intention to expand the number of states to 28 prior to announcement. Michael Makuei, the information minister and a staunch supporter of president Kiir, was urging all parties to implement the peace agreement one day before the presidential decree. The same day at the UN, vice president Wani Igga, reassured the world body that the government is fully committed to implement the peace accord. President Kiir even addressed the UN assembly earlier by a video link, confirming the commitment of his government to the peace deal. So what was the reason of this sudden change of heart in a space of 24 hours ?! Some say his drinking problem might have gotten the better of him. Others say he is so desperate to cling to power that he could change the colour of his skin like a chameleon anytime and anywhere. Another group of people think it is the Jieng Council of Elders ( JCE ) scheming again. I tend to agree with the latter two views rather than with the former.
When you read through the presidential decree, you get the sense of an order that has been written hurriedly without proper scrutiny. The order is not on a headed paper and bears no presidential signature nor an official seal. Furthermore there are even few grammatical or typing errors in it. The page numbering is handwritten which is unusual for a presidential decree. The way the decree was presented on paper is below the standard of an order coming from the top office in the country. I wonder what the IGAD – PLUS mediation team would think if they demand a copy or given a copy by the opposition to substantiate violation of the peace agreement ! The decree reads – Establishment order for the creation of 28 states in the decentralised system in the republic of South Sudan. And further it reads – promotion of democratic principle of decentralisation and devolution of power to people.
The interim orders that come under order 9 reads – After coming into force, and in accordance with this order, the president shall appoint the state governors and state legislative assembly. Additionally it reads – All state institutions, laws, regulations and orders shall conform to and operate in accordance with the provisions of the TCoSS 2011 amended 2015.
The above account makes it clear that the decree brings nothing new to the current situation apart from increasing the number of states. There is no real change of the system of governance as the failed decentralised system will remain the order of the day. The TCoSS would remain intact save the amendment in regard to expansion of the number of states. President Kiir’s powers will not be curtailed and he would probably enjoy issuing more presidential decrees including removing some of the yet to be appointed governors.
People should take a note that there is no mention of federalism anywhere in the decree. It is a misrepresentation of decentralisation to be perceived as federalism by the people.The claim by the president that he was busy preparing for the referendum thus it resulted in a delay in creation of more states and devolution of powers, is nothing but a lie. Certainly lying is not a new territory to president Kiir, we have seen him lying without blinking when he showed the ” bull flag ” to members of the national legislative assembly ( NLA ) in the aftermath of the Juba massacre. He claimed the ” bull flag ” belonged to the ” coup plotters ” led by Dr Riek Machar which turned out to be a big lie.
This is a calculated move by president Kiir in collaboration with the JCE. The benefit to his camp is two fold. In the first instance, it’s a way to get into the driving seat following the humiliation of signing the peace agreement against his will. It is also a way to boost the moral of his supporters by showing them that he is still in control. On the other hand it is an effort to drive a wedge among the opposition and supporters of federalism and lure some into switching sides. The layperson and certainly the overwhelming majority of our villagers don’t know the difference between the current decentralised system and federalism. Such people could easily be excited by their home towns being made state capitals following the recent presidential decree hence they would be more inclined to join Kiir’s camp come election day. President Kiir and the JCE know that the advent of federalism to South Sudan means the end of their malicious plans. Therefore they would use what ever means or resources available to them to stop this from happening. Deception, coercion, intimidation, murder and using the looted money to recruit supporters would be all in their arsenal. They are already planning for the elections at the end of the transitional period. The presidential decree should be considered by the opposition as an early kick off of Kiir’s election campaign.
It remains to be seen whether the decree would be enacted or not by the end of the prescribed period of 30 days. Implementing the presidential decree will lead to collapse of the peace agreement, resumption of war and confrontation with the international community. Does the president has the guts to do that ?! And what will be the end result for the people of South Sudan ?! People must remember that Salva Kiir lost legitimacy as president of South Sudan at the end of 08/09/2014. He is now legitimate only after signing the peace agreement and until the end of the transitional government of national unity ” TGoNU “. Violating the peace agreement would nullify his legitimacy as president of the republic of South Sudan. I got a hunch that the president will defer implementation till after the elections and the expansion of the number of states to 28 will be his campaign message. It will probably be the only message as he has absolutely nothing to run on in terms of achievements while in office in the last 10 years.
The opposition and supporters of federalism need to stay on course and avoid being distracted by the government desperate acts. The main task is to explain to the people that the problem is not the number of states required but it’s the system of governance that needs complete overhaul and Kiir’s poor leadership that needs to be thrown to the dustbin of history.
The author is a concern South Sudanese. He can be reached for comments at firstname.lastname@example.org