June 22, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — The Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) is composed of 10 South Sudanese; 5 members nominated by the Incumbent TGoNU and other 5 members nominated by Opposition groups: 2 from SPLM/A-IO, 1 from SSOA, 1 from FDs and 1 from OPP and four (4) nominees of the C5 member countries of the African Union (AU) from South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Algeria and Chad as stipulated in Article 1.15.3 of the R-ARCSS. The fifth member country, Chad, did not nominate a member to the Commission.
The Commission adopted a 4-pronged methodology to fulfil its mandate. First, received a report from the Technical Boundary Committee (TBC) as stipulated in the Agreement and engaged with the TBC to understand the process they followed and the challenges faced. Second, carried out fact-findings by inviting submissions by emails and letters. Third, conducted visits to the States and refugees camps. Finally, consulted experts on boundaries from Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa.
The aim was to provide an understanding on the reasons expressed by South Sudanese on their preferences of and reasons for particular number of States appropriate for the Republic of South Sudan and the basis for determining their boundaries. The objective was to specifically assist the IBC to arrive at a decision and fulfil its mandate within the stipulated period. It must be stressed that the exercise was not meant to find out how many citizens supported any number of States.
The IBC put out a public announcement inviting submissions by email and letters from the South Sudanese to express their views on the number of States appropriate for South Sudan and why. It received 2,261 email submissions and 13 letters. It also held public outreach consultations in all the States of South Sudan and Abyei Administrative area. The commission also decided to visit refugee camps in five (5) neighbouring countries, namely, Ethiopia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Due to challenges faced in the process of visiting the refugee camps, the IBC was only able to visit the refugee camps in Kakuma, Kenya.
The IBC analysed the data received from the report of the TBC, written submissions and public outreach consultations in the States and Kakuma refugee camps and consultations with experts from Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa. Opinions of the South Sudanese were divided between 10, 21, 32 and other numbers of States. The general trend was clear. Those who felt that they benefited from the division of the country into 32 States either stuck to that or called for more States, whereas those who were aggrieved by the division wanted the country to revert to the 10 States. The SPLM/A-IO called for 21 States although some of them supported 10 States. In the areas supporting 32 States or more, the citizens asked for the creation of a total 29 new States. Those in Bahr el Ghazal region demanded 5 new States in their region; those in Equatoria region, 11; in Upper Nile (mainly Jonglei State), 11 and in Kakuma Camps, 2. These demands, if heeded, would put the total number of States in South Sudan to a staggering figure of 61.
In light of its set guidelines, the commission discussed at length the possible options for the number of States. However, IBC members could not reach consensus or proceed further on the matter. This position necessitated taking a vote in accordance to Article 1.15.9 of R-ARCSS. The result was: 10 (6 South Sudanese and the 4 C5 member countries of AU) in favour of 10 States and 4 South Sudanese in favour of 32+ States. Therefore, in accordance with the above-mentioned Article, the IBC could not recommend a particular number of States. As a result, the IBC was unable to make recommendations on the composition and restructuring of the Council of States.
The IBC recommended to IGAD to invite the Parties to the Agreement to consider the way forward.
Analysis and way forward
The result of the vote fell short by just one (1) vote to adopt outright 10 States as the most appropriate for South Sudan. However, the picture was clear:
(a)- Four (4) of the Parties to the Agreement supported 10 States (SPLM/A-IO, SSOA, OPP and SPLM-FDs),
(b)- One (1) person from the fifth Party (ITGoNU) was persuaded to support the
(c)- All the four (4) C-5 members supported the 10 States.
Therefore, the consensus is clear for a political decision to be made.
The voting system was such that each IBC member was to write down in secret ballot the number of States he/she preferred. All the four (4) members of the TGoNU voted for 32+ States. This implied that they were in effect voting for 61 States. This inference is justified by the fact that IBC members representing the ITGoNU argued passionately that the demand of the “people” in the consultations must be respected.
The result also shows that there was zero vote for both 21 and 32 States.
In demanding more States, each respondent in the States were arguing for being separated from this tribe/subtribe or that and were less concerned about any national implication of such a demand. If granted, such a situation will promote dividing the country into small tribal enclaves, with very serious negative consequences to nation-building.
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