Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: Return to ten states marks return to rule of law in South Sudan

By Dak Buoth

Photo: Protesters in Juba POC demanding return to ten states

February 19th 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – I would like to take this earlier opportunity to commend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) under the chairmanship of Sudan Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdock for returning South Sudan to its 10 constitutional states.

In its 34th communique held 0n 9th February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, IGAD Heads of states and Government unwaveringly resolved to return South Sudan to 10 states.

Going by the word ‘return’ these 10 states are not the creation of IGAD but of the South Sudan transitional constitution, 2011. Precisely, what IGAD did was to give meaning to tenets of this constitution which President Kiir and company abandoned and forgotten right before the war erupted on 15th December 2013. The Rule of law takes many forms. ‘‘It means that no person or government is above the law. In another, it means that no government or its officials can enforce laws that are unfair or unjust.’’

I have said time and again that the deliberate abandonment of the constitution by President Salva Kiir was the trigger of the ongoing civil war in the country. At time some people argue that the killing of 20, 000 ethnic Nuer in Juba between 15th and 17th December 2013 was the trigger. My childhood friend, Duop Danhier Gatluak who taught me how to ride bicycle in Nyal was killed In Juba during this dark period. The two are actually the same because when the state goes rogue and become genocidal, war is inevitable for people are entitled to defend themselves.

For the last 6 years, our country South Sudan have been running in chronic confusion as lawless state; and that is why it has always dominated the International headlines for wrong reasons. But we knew at the back of our minds, things will get better; and perhaps this is the beginning.

At this point in time, let it be known to the whole world that the words of President Salva Kiir and Dr, Riek Machar are not the law. We have a set of guiding principles in our transitional constitution, 2011 that we must respect to the letter and spirit.

These 10 states are provided for in the transitional constitution that we prepared and gave ourselves after independence. At the independent day, President Salva Kiir was sworn in using that constitution; he hold it up in the air with his two hands and promised to abide by it. Thus, he cannot play his politics outside this crucial document. He cannot divorce this document openly and still claim to be president. He better divorce his wife if he so wish, god forbids. Going forward, nobody irrespective of his or her status in society should wake up one morning to do something silly and expect us to respect it without a fight.

We refused dictatorship that is why we resisted Arab monolithic regime for 55 years until we became independence on 9th July 2011. We fought for South Sudan, and those who are out to ridicule its citizenry and put the country’s name into disrepute will not be spared.

This IGAD resolution is breathe of fresh air to say the least. We now begin to see the rays of hope and sustainable peace in South Sudan. It is the norm that credit must be given where it’s due. I must say that were it not for the pressure by the International community, peace Envoys and the world renowned South Sudanese academic, Prof. Taban Lo Liyong who wrote factual open letter to US delegation to Juba on this emotive issue of states, this milestone would have not seen the light of the day, congratulations.

The return to 10 states is one of the critical factors that will lead to lasting peace in our country. I greatly thank IGAD for fulfilling the wishes of ordinary South Sudanese. This is bold and brilliant decision that will set the record straight and clear. The IGAD leaders and their special envoys have made all of us happy; and now the road to reform is widely open for we have done the right thing first.


The government of National Unity can now be form on time comes 22nd February 2020. As soon as the government of national unity is put in place, we expect them to expedite the establishment of the hybrid court so as to try those who perpetuated war crimes and crimes against humanity.

However, those who are opposed to the formation of the hybrid court have no business being in the Transitional Government of National Unity because they will lead us into division again. Peace without justice cannot last.

The road to sustainable peace shall be found in the hybrid court for accountability is the key to good governance and peace the world over. The well-known government officials who are known for obstructing peace and justice will be sanction again should they continue frustrating the efforts for justice in the country. Anyone who get a chance to be in the transitional government of national unity comes this February must know that he was destined for a course of justice for the victims and orphans in various internally displaced camps across the country. We do expected that there will be no monkey business like before.

Those of us who are bitter on this states issue are right. At separate times in 2015, the warring SPLM/SPLA factions led by President Gen. Salva Kiir and the former first vice President Dr. Riek Machar created more states in total violation of the South Sudan transitional constitution 2011. President Kiir unilaterally created 28 states and later increased them to 32 states through Presidential decree in Juba. President Salva Kiir was simply engaging in mockery when he left IGAD summit in Ethiopia the other day, saying he will have to go back to consult the people first before agreeing with IGAD to return the country to the 10 states.

The so called consultation in Juba was mere waste of time which he is good at. How could he consult people on something he did without consulting them in the first place? Okay there is saying in Nuer language, that ‘‘Lueke raan ke luonyde jok,’’ which means advice someone on his return. It is not late, we can still advise him that those 32 states were going to ruin South Sudan for good.

Moreover, I think this is an opportune time for President Salva Kiir to listen to our wise counsels.

Prior to the creation of the 32 states, Dr Riek Machar created 21 states based on the old British colonial districts. The million dollar question is, was he creating these 21 states to please the colonialists? It sound uncouth for him to come on camera saying he is doing this based on colonialist decision while knowing that they never consulted Africans at the time. Dr. Riek is opening Pandora’s box by mentioning the colonialists. We have not yet reconciled with colonialists.

It is undisputable that the creation of these unconstitutional states, 32 and 21 had disintegrated this fragile country further. A lot of innocent lives had been lost as result of this illegal decision to create more states. In earnest, the duo took advantage of the ongoing war and threw away the constitution for their own political interests.

We blamed them for these lives lost as result of their decision to create more states. As matter of fact Dr. Riek Machar was the causative of these states problem though President kiir later copy paste it without knowing its dire consequences.

President salva Kiir is ideas bankrupt who often grab and implement other peoples’ ideas without taking precaution. We know it was Dr. Riek who brought this issue of states though he later distance himself from it.

Notwithstanding, we begrudgingly acknowledge and appreciate their change of hearts for accepting IGAD Proposal to return our country to its 10 constitutional states.

In the last three days President Kiir and company have been peddling lies in the mainstream media that these 32 states are the demands of the ordinary people of South Sudan. This is not true.

In fact the demands of the people are the 10 states. I’m sure because there will be no demonstration against the 10 states. From now on, many of our people will sit quietly as they celebrate the return to 10 states.


It is now evidence that President, Salva Kiir is someone who hardly learnt from his past mistakes. And this is a bad character that he ought to change for the good of our country South Sudan.

In his acceptance letter of 10 states dated today 15th February, he seems to have accepted the 10 states conditionally. Can you imagine he created what we call Ruweng states out of unity state territory; what was the point of doing this because he didn’t explain the reasons?

I’m calling on him to leave the Unity state untouched. The Nuer and Dinka of parieng and Abiemnon are brothers and sisters who have managed to exist for centuries through the principles of reconciliation and forgiveness. He is now creating another danger with the so called Ruweng Administrative area, and he ought to be warn in advance.

It must be abolished now and not later. First of all, some parts of Abiemnon are Parieng counties that make up the so called Ruweng Administrative area is Mayom County that was given to them by Bul Nuer paramount chief long time ago.

We have documentary evidence on this claims. President kiir should not take advantages of Gen. Peter Gatdet’s death to an extent that he can think of grabbing or annexing Bul Nuer’s land in Mayom. It is not going to be walk-over as he think. Mayom County is not short of people who will come out against this scheme.

I’m sure president Kiir has only compromised some Bul Nuer political and military dinosaurs but the young Bul Nuer majority of whom are in the diaspora will soon opposed this ploy. Also, the rest of us in unity state will not be spectators as he grab Bul Nuer land. Reggae icon Bob Nesta Marley says and I quote, ”you can fool some people sometime but you cannot fool all the people all the times.”

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com

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