The Power-Sharing Experience In Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka And Kenya

By Jock Nhial Both Kerjiok ;

Raila and friends from South Sudan
South Sudan’s principles to the warring factions Salva Kiir Mayardit meets Dr. Riek Machar after months of fighting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In front of them is the former Kenyan’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, sharing his perspectives(Photo: Nyamilepedia)

Dec 6, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — This article seeks to identify the lessons that can be learnt from Kenya, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka from the experience of power-sharing and the establishment and Executive power between two principles Agreement. By comparing the power-sharing mechanisms created by both the Northern Irish and Sri Lankan governments in recent years. In contrast, the Sri Lankan government have not been able to achieve their intended goals primarily because the essence and spirit of power-sharing have been largely ignored by the country’s lawmakers. Consequently, Sri Lankan power sharing principles consider putting forward an alternative choice based on the Draft Constitution of 1997. As a solution they incorporate elements of Presidential system and the parliamentary system and creating a consensual decision-making process and genuine autonomy for ethnic groups over issues directly relevant to themselves. The All Party Representative Committee tasked by the Government of Sri Lanka Tamale to formulate power- sharing proposals and visit Northern Ireland to learn from the much acclaimed power-sharing arrangement there. Among the key questions the Sri Lankan delegation will seek answers for are: (a) what institutional factors lead to the successful process of conflict transformation in Northern Ireland and (b) what policy lessons can Sri Lanka draw from Northern Ireland?

As the armed conflict in South Sudan and ethnic cleansing have different experiences of these two deeply divided democratic societies, which power-sharing of the two key components, the Prime Minister and President Executive power should be studied and be looked into carefully? During the Northern Ireland power-sharing they created an institution by Namely the Northern Ireland Assembly 1998 to present the argument to society and evaluate power-sharing agreement.

During the power-sharing in Sri Lanka they created a Provincial Councils under the Indo-Lanka Peace Accords of 1987 and the proposed Draft Constitution of 1997. Although draft constitution proposed of the Presidential system and the Parliamentary system to work holds truth for Sri Lankan people during these power-sharing.

Through my own experience on this South Sudan conflict, one needs to answer preliminarily, why federalism system proposed have the potential of dealing with these conflicts that driven 1.5 million people out of their homes. Can federalism bring stability to societies that are divided along ethnic lines? According to McGarry and O’Leary, Political theory “is one of the most influential theories in comparative political science. The South Sudan conflict is viewed as ethnic cleansing. Moreover, there is need for strong institution that can facilitate cooperation and compromise among political elites in states that have deep ethnic division.

The ethnic cleansing can be a history of injustices and marginalisation of communities;

In reality, traditional of African democracies push a winner-takes-all system and ethnic minorities are usually excluded from political power. Even those involved in conflict can easily be omitted as minorities. Although boss principle reject the idea of ethnic groups and identified this conflict as political issues, it is becoming increasingly clear that minority rights cannot be subsumed under the category of human rights Acts 11. Hence, the risk of furthering ethnic consciousness is a less costly alternative to continued armed hostilities. Indeed, “attempting to erase ethnic cleanses will not simply make them go away. Rather, successful state structures must acknowledge and address their divided house of dilemmas.

Northern Ireland has been able to successfully design a political and constitutional agreement for power-sharing. Although it took eight years for its full implementation, the Northern Irish Agreement is laying the foundation for a more inclusive and stable society. Sri Lanka, however, has so far merely unsuccessfully flirted with the concept of power-sharing and a political arrangement to contend with the country’s ethnic divisions which appears to be a distant dream. These factors make a comparison worthwhile and it is the Northern Irish success that burns an interest as to whether Sri Lanka’s solutions also lie in Presidential system and the parliamentary system approaches.

Kenya power-sharing agreement has been a success in achieving the primary goal of ending the conflict and restoring stability. The violence that had engulfed the country ended with the signing of the agreement. Most of the internally displaced people have now left the camps that were set up after the violence. Equally important, the power-sharing agreement received widespread public approval, a sign that Kenyans by and large endorsed its adoption

Kikuyus and members of Odinga’s ethnic group, the Luo, have fought hand-to-hand in Nairobi’s poorest neighbourhoods. And in the western Rift Valley region, politicians rallied ethnic Kalenjin and other militias to torch Kikuyu farms and houses in violence that included the burning of 17 people inside a church. The dispute set off a wave of violence driven by a sense among many ethnic groups that Kibaki’s tribe, the Kikuyu, was unwilling to relinquish control after dominating Kenya’s power structures for more than four decades.

The concern is that power-sharing agreements may create an adverse selection problem whereby extremists and ethno-nationalists are favoured over moderates. This does not appear to be the case in South Sudan. To the contrary, the leaders of the two parties that signed the agreement, Kibak and Odinga, appear to be relatively moderate compared to the hardliners leaders in South Sudan. In Kenya the negotiations process, before and after, leaders have shown a willingness and ability to constrain hardliners within their own ranks, facilitating compromise across party lines. Yet, foreign powers and ordinary Kenyans continue to clamor for action. While there is strong support for reforms among Kenyans, any attempt to confront such issues may jeopardize the coalition’s stability.

In South Sudan the two main ethnic communities, Nuer and Dinka, should endorse the power-sharing and form the grand coalition council of the ten- executive member of Council, who can facilitate community peace building and elect members who are required to declare themself ‘nationalist’. The concept of group autonomy can be seen in the explicit recognition of the political identities of nationalists and others as well, the decision to leave to consult with their communities before making final decision. This refers to the doctrine of parallel consent: a majority are loyalist representatives have to vote in favour of the proposed power sharing agreement. This requires a weighted majority where 60 percent of all members have to vote, including at least 40 percent of each of the delegations.

For South Sudan to overcome its volatile past and emerge as a stable society, the two main communities, Nuer and Dinka, must balance power according to the mutually acceptable political arrangement currently in place. In the last few month, Government has tried several approaches to resolve the ethnic conflict but these measures were either too little or too late. The most salient among the string of unsuccessful efforts are the establishment of the Councils elder and the proposed travel to all ten states of South Sudan preaching that there was no ethnic cleansing in Juba.

These two principles must do one thing and that is to move this country forward. The constitutional reforms must present the view of minority groups in Parliament , Juridical, and finance as the existing system does not considered the view of minority communities during this power –sharing. Constitution need to be amended.


Based on a comparative analysis, I have argued that the power-sharing should be established under the Belfast Agreement of 1998 is paving the way for the successful transformation of a deep-seated conflict in South Sudan, and is creating a considerably more stable society. Contrastingly, the various mechanisms designed to mitigate conflict in Sri Lanka have not able to achieve their intended goals. This is largely because the essence and spirit of power-sharing have been largely ignored by the country’s policymakers. Risked of power –share failure in South Sudan it is there if the issues tribe is not address careful seemingly obstinate civil conflicts, it is possible to create a break-through in negotiations if the parties are willing to rethink the framework for a settlement of their grievance. The Nuer –Dinka conflict, the two principles should address through federal systems be necessary modernizations of those communities’ members, preferably a system which has elements of federalism. The federalism will promote cross-community cooperation. The reality is that in the face of few alternatives, federalism has become a practical pathway for this conflict that divided the two big communities in south Sudan history. Nuer and Dinka can learn from western Kenyan where Kikuyu and dominated tribe of Kalenjin, came back together after post –violence in Kenya. The two tribes are now sharing government power together so that they can address their grievances together with their communities and work for peace through constitutional reform.


MacGinty, Roger 2003 “Constitutional Referendums and Ethnonational Conflict: The Case of

Northern Ireland.” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 9, no. 2 (2003): 1-22.

McGarry, John and Brendan O’Leary 2004, The Northern Ireland Conflict: Consociational

Engagements. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Northern Ireland Assembly 2007, “Allocation of Seats in the Assembly Executive and

Chairs and Deputy Chairs of Committees,” http://www.niassembly.gov.uk.

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency 2001, “Northern Ireland Census of

Population,” www.nisra.gov.uk

Kyle, Keith 1999. The Politics of the Independence of Kenya. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Lijphart, Arend. 1977. Democracy in Plural Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Walter, Barbara. 2002. Committing to Peace: The Successful Settlement of Civil Wars. Princeton University Press.

The author is a student of post graduate -Certificate in Child protection and Student of Master in Youth and society –currently studying in Flinders University- Australia- easily be reach through his Email address:djock0001@flinders.edu.au

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