By Deng Vanang
February 19th 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – Despite the external pressure resulting in President Salva Kiir Mayardit to accept at eleven hour the return of 10 states as multiple sources alleged, his decision to do so is a welcomed gesture. Kiir’s surprise U-turn to dissolve politically motivated, socially divisive and economically unsustainable 32 states is one first popular decision he ever made since our long and hard fought declaration of independence on 9th July, 2011.
I, alike countless South Sudanese people, would urge him to keep momentum in continuously and positively responding to the yet to be met popular demands. Among them is the need to ensure security of the State for each and every citizen through orderly and timely implementation of long delayed security arrangements provisions in the R-ARCSS.
Another is him addressing sticking issues not previously negotiated in R-ARCSS as non-signatories rightfully demand in the next round of talks in Rome for a comprehensive agreement to return the war-ravaged country to lasting peace and stability. Lastly, the added poisoned chalice that is Ruweng and Pibor on top of much desired ten states needs to be distilled out lest this overwhelming joyful celebration engulfing the country now is spoiled.
But not necessarily being against people of Ruweng and Pibor. It is just that general will and due process be strictly followed in a nation more conscious of discrimination and marginalization against ditching out the autonomy or special administrative status for the sake of it.
It must be justifiably anchored on constitutionalism. Abyei is only acceptable case to earn special administrative status due to its precarious presence on disputed borderline between South Sudan and Sudan. Once it is either South Sudan or Sudan through an internationally supervised referendum, then its special administrative status will automatically cease to exist.
Autonomy or special administrative unit has legal backing as was In 1972 when Southern Sudan obtained an autonomy or special administrative status. Which was not because we took up arms against the Sudanese state. However, it was due to our valid political argument behind the violent uprising.
Since we were and are still distinctively different from the ruling Afro-Arab elite racially, culturally, religiously and economically. Criteria which don’t qualify Pibor and Ruweng to be special administrative regions which instead set bad precedence or fall prey to other people’s envy having felt are deserving of special administrative areas too, making it difficult for the central government to deny them such a right.
In case Pibor becomes a special administrative area simply because its Murle, Jie and Anyuak population is economically and educationally backward, then let the government show the people the area it has or past governments have developed in South Sudan infrastructure wise. Ruweng is a minority Dinka padang area enclaved in the largely Western Nuer dominated unity state. To be officially granted a special administrative status, Ruweng people must come up with a valid argument suggesting they are either under Nuer oppression or disadvantaged in one way or another.
Not to mention Ruweng people having already secured two Counties not consumerate with their tiny population compared to other seven Nuer Counties within the Unity State. The same problem making 31 states to be dissolved still haunts Ruweng into which neighboring Nuer lands filthy rich with oil depoits are annexed. What is needed the most is defining what constitutes any resource to be called a national wealth.
Then establish corruption-free federal institutions on how to share out our national wealth equitably among our administrative Counties and parliamentary constituencies countrywide.
Deng Vanang is UDRM/A’s Secretary-general and member of SSOMA’s leadership Council. He is cordially reachable at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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