President Salva Kiir has suddenly chosen to divide the country into 28 new states, undermining a central pillar of the peace agreement
By David Blair, Juba | The Telegraph.
Oct 4, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — One of the world’s bloodiest conflicts claimed more lives on Sunday after the President of South Sudan was accused of “violating” a peace agreement by unilaterally creating 28 new states.
At a stroke, President Salva Kiir announced that South Sudan’s 10 existing states would be divided into 28. The government said this decree would come into effect immediately, without requiring approval from parliament.
South Sudan has endured almost two years of civil war between Mr Kiir’s government and a rebel movement led by Riek Machar, a former vice-president. The fighting has claimed tens of thousands of lives and driven 2.2 million people from their homes – 20 per cent of the entire population.
A supposed peace agreement was signed in August. This included a power-sharing arrangement allowing Mr Machar’s rebels to choose the governors of two states, Unity and Upper Nile.
Now that Mr Kiir has decided to abolish both states, this part of the deal may be unworkable.
A statement from Mr Machar said the decree amounted to a “violation of the peace agreement and a clear message to the world that President Kiir is not committed to peace”.
As Mr Kiir signed the decree in the capital, Juba, more fighting was already taking place in Unity and Upper Nile, the two most bitterly contested states. The rebels and the government accused one another of starting the bloodshed; both sides agreed that scores of soldiers and insurgents had been killed.
The fighting has become an ethnic conflict between the President’s Dinka people and Mr Machar’s Nuers. In Unity state, the killing is particularly intense because the local Nuer population is divided between supporters of the government and of the rebels.
Britain has decided to send up to 300 soldiers to join a United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan. One of the main tasks of this contingent is to protect civilians. About 200,000 people now live for their own safety inside UN bases across the country.
In government-held areas, like Juba, the Nuer population stays under UN guard. In rebel held areas, Dinkas are the ones who seek protection.