By Isaac Yak R. Tutdel,
March 02, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- January 2014, Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon (Rebel Chief) divided South Sudan into 21 Federal States based on the previous colonial districts. Dr. Rieks’s suggestion was popular and was received with mixed reactions with Greater Equatoria constituting a major proponent of the idea and substantially divided voices in greaters Upper Nile and Bahr El Gazal. Dr. Riek wanted his new states to comprise the administrative units in South Sudan at the time of CPA 2 negotiation. His proposal was flatly vetoed both by the Government of South Sudan and IGAD Plus members. CPA 2 was concluded with existed 10 (ten) states. The government won and SPLM IO lost the battleground in enforcing the notion of 21 states into the CPA 2. However, the idea did not vanish but was deferred to a later date to be determined in the process of permanent constitution drafting. The public response was insignificant since the focus was to bring and support peace and stop the suffering of the people. Furthermore, Public wanted to have a stake in the decision that can affect their lives after the division of the country into more states.
The popularity of dividing South Sudan into more states did not go in vain. President Salva Kiir Mayadit clutched the chance and rushed by issuing an administrative order number 36 in October 2015, by dividing the country into 28 states mostly on ethnic lines, with Nuer nation exclusively on five new states located in Greater Upper Nile region. The presidential order was officiated when the 28 governors were appointed at the Chrismas Eve last year. Again, the decision was received with varied reactions. SPLM IO blamed the government to have reneged on the agreement while accepting the originality and ownership of the credit.
Principally, South Sudanese have agreed to the division of South Sudan into more administrative units. The fundamental challenges relating to the creation 28 states according to me, are as follows:
- Land issues.
- CPA 2 violation
- Budgetary requirements and other administrative requirements
- Isolation of Nuer nation from the rest of South Sudanese
- Unsolicited public sentiments.
Land issues: The current map of South Sudan under the 28 states is thought to have curved in some ancestral community lands to other community under the different administrative unit. This concern has generated serious debates and attracted regional and international attention. The AU communique has recommended for the formation of a boundary commission by the parties to the agreement to draw a consensus on the exact borders of the new states. Should the parties to the agreement failed to strike a deal on the new boundaries, then the CPA 2 will prevail. AU communique has partially restored the hopes. The outcome of such committee shall determine the destiny of new states. Land grabbing as a result of the creation of 28 states is a time bomb which can spark at any stage from the community who are aggrieved by new state borders.
CPA 2 Violation: When the Compromise Peace Agreement was signed in August 2015, it was signed on the basis of 10 states. Division of South Sudan into more states open up the agreement for more discussion which in turn can complicate the implementation process. Truly speaking, the idea to divide South Sudan into more states, being 21 or 28 should remain as proposals subject to more discussion, debates and studies even though the impression is regarded as a popular demand by the people as a mean of extending the services closer to them.
Imbalances: One of the political distress associated with the creation of 28 states is the ethnic imbalances. Dinka community maintains a sizable present in 13 states out of 28 excluding Abyei. Talks were centred at geographical constituencies epresentation both in the Upper and lower houses (Council of States and Legislative Assembly). Other community argued that political domination by Dinka as a tribe is being breed to the disadvantages of other communities in South Sudan. That is why some communities both in Greater Equatoria and Upper Nile are calling for more states to encounter such imbalances. Such passion is candid and should not be given a tone-deaf.
Budgetary requirements and other administrative requirements: Among the reason, advance by both the SPLM IO and the Government behind the division of the country was to take services closer to the people. Experts provide various counts on this argument. Some argue that extension of political power does not necessarily means more services to the people but instead can stretch the little resources which are intended for service delivery. To deliver services to the people, you must possess the needed financial strengths to achieved your goals. Infrastructures such as roads, power, water, health and education services needs can never be provided if sustainable income is not realised. The current financial status of South Sudan does not warrant more administrative units that add additional budgetary burden/obligation. Yes, resources can be generated locally in the form of taxes and agricultural produces but, this stage requires time to develop a middle-income population and equitable agricultural skills.
Timing: The period in which South Sudan witness the division is smeared with deadliest and brutal conflict which has severely divided the community on ethnic grounds. The two warring parties must acknowledge that the current senseless war has taken a tribal shape which resulted in deep hatred and bitterness. Dividing South Sudan into ethnic states at this time will be received with prejudiced political view, thus threatening the social fabric of peaceful South Sudanese. Leaders must exercise caution and wisdom in taking decisions especially when the political situation is not stable. Any political decision made at a caprice will result in serious repercussions that will never ever poster the social unity.
Isolation of Nuer nation from the rest of South Sudanese: Interestingly enough is the isolation of the entire Nuer community from the rest of other communities in South Sudan. The Nuer people in greater Upper Nile exist is in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei States with Dinka, Shilluk (Chollo), Murle, Anyuak, Burun, Jie, Kachiepo among others. None of the above community is left to share any political, administrative unit with Nuer Nation. One would wonder whose choice was that? Was it from Nuer people to be isolated from the rest of the communities or was it from the other communities to be isolated from the Nuer people? or it was from the creator of the 28 states? This exclusive formation of Nuer States sends a mix signals whereby no one can predict the end result. This isolated of Nuer community from the rest of the communities represent a major alarm on the novelty of the 28 states. Concern for autonomy or possibility of independent Nuer State in the future can not be dismissed
Unsolicited Public Opinions: South Sudan, as a member of United Nations and other international and regional bodies, must abide by the norms and obligations of those organisations. The establishment of South Sudan was based on sound democratic values, respect for human rights and the rule of law. In respect to the above values, no single force being the President or FVP/Rebel can determine the political destiny of South Sudanese single-handedly. Any policy decision that affects the political lives of South Sudanses must be subjected to thorough study, comprehensive consultation and fair and free referendum. The overall consciousness must be carried out so that all the possible short comings should be mitigated if not erased. Dividing South Should not be one- night decision or by small clique behind the power. The mechanism provided for by the CPA 2 must be respected so that public participation is ensured.
In conclusion, President Salva Kiir and FVP Dr. Riek must exercise maximum wisdom and courage to stand tall within their circles to be able to see a better future for the country they both fought for years to liberate. Any decision that is taken at a whim at this time in South Sudan can have a serious consequences on the viability of the country.
The author is Ph.D. Candidate at China University of Petroleum-Beijing Academy of Chinese Energy Strategy18 Fuxue Road, Changping, Beijing, 102249, China. He can be reached via: email@example.com or Mobile: +86-13521718451+86-13521718451
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