By Samuel Reech Mayen,
January 29, 2016(Nyamilepedia) — Oppositions promise citizens to tarmac for them a road from town A to town B if it is voted into power. But when the government buys that idea and paves the road, it doesn’t cause alarm. A government in power does what is in the interest of the citizens to win their support. It is not a problem in the rest of the world.
But this is not the case in South Sudan. Because some politicians are politically naïve, they do not want their ideas to be implemented by someone in power. They prefer the ideas buy from the public to wait until one comes into power to implement them. This is the reasons the newly created states brought peace implementation to a deadlock.
The simple issue here is that, the politicians specifically the top leadership of the SPLM-IO is too stingy to allow their idea to be implemented by other leaders. This may be for two reasons; first, the SPLM-IO may not have another idea to lure the public to support them, secondly, Dr. Riek has always claimed that he was the architect of self-determination that saw South Sudan seceded from the Sudan but public hardly pay attention to his claim leaving him with no or little credit.
Therefore, having initiated the idea of dividing the country into several states which the government had frozen for consultations makes him feel that his last and the only credit is being robbed. He looks at the government move to create 28 states not only as a mean that leaves him with no credit but also isolating him from the vast wealth of the nation, particularly the oil reserves.
To add weight to their arguments, the SPLM-IO has insisted that the 28 states do not rhyme with the provision of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), and the new states do not have clear borders. The SPLM-IO exaggerated that the new states have been curved out along ethnic lines and can cause violent conflict. Some complain of lack of funds to maintain these states.
On whether the newly created states meet the provisions of ARCISS, yes, peace was signed on the basis of 10 states; however, the SPLM-IO had incited the citizens about the importance of creating more states. On this basis, the public favor was tilted toward the decision. The government was wrongly put in hot debate with the citizens. The liberal citizens felt that the government was unfair to refuse the creation of more states.
These citizens could not understand why this need was struck out of the deal. They had accepted the need for more states. Later when peace was signed, they were neither consulted nor informed but left in suspense. And because most citizens feel that new states will bring services closer to them, they urged the government to adopt the idea as a mean of speeding up economic and social recovery from the war devastations. Honestly speaking, the citizens who support the idea of many states are by far more than those who oppose it.
On the issue of the new States’ borders, any reasonable mind cannot debate much on this simple fact. The previous counties in the 10 states had borders. For instance, the previous borders of Twic County in the former Warrap state remain its borders as a new state today. Morobo County which is part of the current Yei state operated within its borders in the former Central Equatoria State. If more counties such as Kajo-keji, Yei river, Lainya and Morobo are combined together to make a state, their previous borders translate into their new State borders. All counties and Payams in South Sudan have administrative borders which are reflection of the old borders that had existed between different communities.
Some critics also claim that the states have been created on ethnic lines. This is not true; it is on the bases of long time settlement and the size of the population as well as the land. When one looks at the states of the Equatorial regions, most of them compose of multi-ethnicities. For instance, the Lotuko, Langi, Acholi and Madi are in the state of Imatong but from different ethnic backgrounds.
In the state of Western Lakes, the Jur in Wullu County shares a state with Dinka Agaar. In Tonj, the Dinka Rek in this state shares a state with the Bongo. The same case in Wau state where Dinka of Marial Wau, Jurchol and Ballanda remain together. These are just few examples on the bases of settlement. But the funny thing about the critics of 28 states is how they contradict their opinion. While claiming that the states have been curved out along ethnic lines, they again rush into the case of Lol State and say Dinka from Aweil should not be combined with the people of Raja. This makes their criticism more of a mere confusion than logic. On one hand you want different tribes to share a state but in Lol State you disagree with your stance. This is ridiculous.
Moreover, the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bhar El Ghazal are happy with their states except this small protest in Lol state. The Lol state which has its headquarters in Raja is combined with part of Northern Bhar el Ghazal for reasons. This decision is appreciated on two grounds; the population in Raja is small and being at the border which faces external attacks, it is important to have populous state at this border to make a strong state with strong institutions that provide primary protections to the citizens. Secondly the distant between Wau and Raja is one of the farthest to remain in one state; hence it’s reasonable to connect it with part of Aweil which is closer to Raja.
Clearly speaking, the people of Raja are not against 28 states but instead want the state of their own. Therefore, their issue has nothing to do with the SPLM-IO arguments of revoking the order that created the new states. In case of any persistent in this claim by the people of Lol, the government should be asked to resolve their issue as demanded by the citizens.
It is only in Greater Upper Nile where some complaints are exaggerated. In the former state of Jonglei which has been divided into four states, the borders are clear and no one is complaining. Of course the division of the old Jonglei cannot cause conflict among the communities. If Gen. Simon Gatwich Dual says he is not happy to be in his new state of Bieh East, he will be asked whether he has ever been happy before the states were divided. They have been under one state but continuously attack themselves. If there is anything good people gain from being squeezed in one state, then General Gatwich Dual has already got that benefit and it’s time for him to settle where he belongs. Buma State of Gen. David Yau Yau fought for this division; hence they are happy with their new state.
In the former Unity state, Liech South has nothing to complain unless they have hidden interest in the territories of Liech North and Ruweng States. The only small issue is between Liech North and Ruweng. But we all know that no county has ever accommodated another county. The presumption is that, every county operates administratively within its territorial jurisdictions. The inhabitants of any county own the lands of that county. Besides, any claim on another county’s land that was not brought forward before the creation of 28 states is immaterial for being a politically motivated claim that lacks substantial base.
In case of any discontent, the people of Abiemnom, Pariang and Mayom County who share borders need government support to address any issue that may arise. It doesn’t need someone from the SPLM-IO to confuse this long time neighborhood friendliness. But no doubt, the people of Ruweng and Liech North have lived together for centuries and they are well known as people who cannot entertain any sort of propaganda.
In regard to the former Upper Nile State, the issue of Western Nile and Eastern Nile States cannot also cause mayhem. This may need an independent Arbitration body for both parties to present their genuine evidences of their claims. The decision of the arbitration can be binding on the parties. The parties to the conflict can be represented by their traditional authorities who understand their geographical boundaries better. No person should take advantage over the other. Citizens of these states should note that Gen. Johnson Olony is fighting a war which is not related with the creation of 28 states. He started fighting in 2010 but there were no new states by then. Thus any person aggrieved by the order that created Western Nile and Eastern Nile states should seek a peaceful means in which the issue can be permanently resolved.
Some people also wonder aloud how the government will finance the 28 states. These critics fail to recognize that both the Government and SPLM-IO have promoted many generals after the signing of the ARCISS. With this promotion of numerous generals, they do not understand that a budget to cater for them is equivalent to the budget that can finance the 28 states. Moreover, the new states policy will promote the slogan of self reliance which can reduce over dependence on oil money. The creation of new states comes with new responsibilities for the citizens. Citizens are required to work to meet their needs as well as paying tax to the government.
They are indirectly motivated to work when they know that they are going to pay tax at the end of the day. Thus, the states will be strengthened by their own citizens. Instead of wondering where the 28 states will get money to fund its institutions, wonder where the numerous generals will get their salaries, housings and vehicles. It’s wise for a citizen to work to pay tax for a salary of a teacher than to toil in a farm to pay a tax for a salary of a general with poor records in history.
Being a popular demand, the decision that created the 28 states cannot be reversed. The SPLM-IO should drop their call for reversal for it’s a decision that most civilians appreciate. On the other hand, the government needs to give proportional gubernatorial positions to the SPLM-IO to hasten the party re-unification process.
The author is a student who studies in Uganda and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or +256 772 727 857
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