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A Case for Federalism in the Republic of South Sudan

By J. Omunu

June 14, 2014 (SSNA) -- Let me dive in straight to the topic. Many would agree with me that the Republic of South Sudan is a one-party state with the political power vested in the central government. President Kiir has no constitutional restrictions in his exercise of power over political activities at all levels of governments. He can appoint and fire elected MPs, Governors, University Chancellors, members of Judiciary Branch with impunity etc. Thus, the fate and prospects of South Sudanese political and socio-economic stability is now hanging on the establishment of a balanced federal system of government in South Sudan.

In this brief discussion, I argue that the problem confronting our new country is a highly centralized system of government disguised as “decentralized democratic system” under a retarded one-party system: the SPLM. In this system of government, political power is centrally concentrated in the hand of one strong Big-Man: President Salva Kiir who is holding power over all public policies affecting the citizens.

In theory, federalism is all about the distribution of wealth, power and authority between central and states level of governments, such that each level of government is self-governing in its assigned geographical area. Many economists will argue that a federal state encourages development in areas where citizens are determined to work hard for the common benefit of all.

Strictly speaking, the centralization of power by the SPLM ruling elites since 2005 has produced contradictory end results. I would argue the current political system largely reflects the South Sudan’s messy and failed system of governance. Surprisingly after attaining its independence from the “old Sudan,” the SPLM ruling elites mostly from Dinka forcefully argued for centralized and unitary government much like that of Sudan. You may recall in the “old Sudan,” concentration of power at the center was considered a necessary prerequisite to maintaining the country’s territorial integrity and unity.

However, the supposed benefits of “decentralization” in South Sudan have proved illusionary if not absolute failure. On the other hand, the post-independence Sudan has been rocked by tribal conflicts, military coups, and civil wars due to concentration of power in Khartoum, and specifically at hand of few Jallaba elites. Therefore, although an argument for establishing decentralized government or one-party state that many would hope will help unify the various ethnic groups, the Sudan’s experience has been disappointing. The experiment clearly shows that centralization/decentralization system does not cement the country’s unity or help equitable distribution of power and resources that suit the various ethnic groups’ interests within the Sudan.

Like the northern ruling elites in the Sudan, members of a particular tribe in the newly independent South Sudan, see no problem with that same failed centralized political arrangement because they consider themselves not only different but more equal than others to borrow words from Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Make no mistake about it, the ongoing senseless war and killings is but an illustration of the cases where members of a dominant tribe continue to dominate political and economic power at the expense of members of other groups.

Needless to say that the competition for political and economic control resulted in the massacre of innocent Nuer ethnic groups in Juba who had nothing to do with the power struggle within the SPLM, followed by subsequent revenge killings of innocent Dinka in Bor and Akobo. Such are results of skewed public policies designed to benefit a few and particular ethnic group at the expense of others. It is therefore difficult to validate the claim that the current “decentralized” government can unite the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation of South Sudan.

As noted above, the newest country in Africa is not only experiencing internal divisions and inter-tribal war but economic stagnation as well. In brief, South Sudan is now a dictatorship by all account. The poor governance practiced in the country can be attributed to the bad South Sudan Transitional Constitution-2011, which clearly concentrated excessive powers in the hand of one strong-man (President Kiir). This is the genesis of the problems and constitutional failures to address the conflicting interests of 64 ethnic groups in post-independence South Sudan.

Contrary to that Federalism allows equitable distribution of power and resources, and it allows individual groups to preserve their cultural heritage.

As we speak, it is only the incumbent President Kiir and his cronies or pro-status quo folks are the ones criticizing Federalism on the false premise that such a system of government reinforces tribalism. Their argument holds no water – simply because Federalism has never been tried before in South Sudan.

Bear in mind, South Sudan is a very huge country, which makes it more difficult for the central government in Juba to deliver basic services and serve local communities in remote areas of the country efficiently. For example, the Murle people and many other small tribes have been forgotten by the central government in Juba. Their repeated calls for justice and a genuine political reform in the country have gone unanswered and ignored by those bourgeoisies sitting in their air-conditioned offices in Juba. Juba has remained unresponsive to these demands for reform.

Paradoxically, the SPLM/A leadership raised the aspirations of ‘Junubin’ (South Sudanese) followers during the struggle for justice, freedom and equality with the promise of democratic rule, economic development, improved education, health care, basic service delivery and taking town to the village. These promises helped to mobilize volunteer fighters from the various ethnic groups, and later with the 2011-referendum that led to resounding yes of 99.8% votes for independence South Sudan.

However, the unfulfilled expectations have created widespread frustration and armed rebellions against the ruling SPLM party that fails to fulfill its promises. No wonder the so-called “disgruntled” members within the ruling SPLM party known today as the SPLM-in-Opposition decided to fight and push for change.

Most of all, the weak decentralization system currently in place proved to be the problem, therefore, federalism is more desirable than the latter and it can be the best prescribed solution for the South Sudan’s political and socio-economic crisis if there is a political will in the country. As one of our South Sudanese respected elder and distinguished professor pointed out:

There are those who fear federalism so much, and want to convince others not to support it. While federalism may not solve all our current problems, it will go a long way to mitigate some of it. It has however to be implemented in tandem with other important reforms of our weak institutions.

Federalism, thus, would likely preserve unity, ethnic harmony, and above all, it is most likely to advance economic and individual freedom.

In conclusion, federalism will protect individual rights against a powerful central government or dictatorship.

The author can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Is South Sudan Television (SSTV) a Dinka Own or a National Own?

By Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

Jesus said to the multitude people who gathered around him" whose head in this coin? Caesar !!! shouted the crowds ' then give God what belong to God, and give Caesar what belong to Him' said the Messiah.

June 14, 2014 (SSNA) -- SSTV is a National Television whose role in the country is to aware the public on daily going in the country, delivering hopeful information,news and dedicating  important events to the beloved citizens of south Sudan.But the regime in Juba is using it as traditional horn to blows war songs to warriors, Juba government used the National TV to conduct private meeting, individuals programmed, which doesn't carried the mandate of TV. The cripple regime went far by sending Hate messages and mobilizing the youths to have a permanent hatred among themselves.


It has come to my knowledge that our fellow dinka brothers are trying harder to impose colonization, humiliation, ignorance and segregation to the other smaller tribes in the country after pushing out Nuer in the country. It’s clear that as long as Salva kiir continues to sit on presidential seat the carnage won.t stop, the ethnic cleansing will not end and more blood will still be shed. SSTV face denial of it right as National Television which act as messenger to the people of the country.

Dinka community think they will lead this nation forever and that is why they are enchanting filthy words of tribal division everywhere, Dinka can't differentiate a national owned asset and President Salva kiir's properties which he himself owned.

'It’s rare in the whole world to fine a drunkard villager singing in his dialogue in the National Television for almost one hour and nothing, absolutely is done about it.' This shows a high percentage promotion of tribalism in the country and its Dinka tribe doing that.

Where on earth, will you find the President and his cabinets ministers delivering speeches to the masses in their own mother tongue? it only south Sudan and its only Dinka doing that.

South Sudan is country bless with multi-million people with different tribes, 64 tribes with different languages.

For your information, Dinka language was not chosen to be the National language and you should not used it in National TV.

The random used of Nation TV by one ethnicity is embarrassing both internally and internationally, if its the state government in Bhar el Ghazal, Bor, Renk and Abyei? that didn't aware its people that SSTV belong to the government then today you should take it as a warning to do so.

The other tribes in south Sudan and the international community view south Sudan national television as a traditional horn and whistle to blows war song to the warriors.


The national TV have contributed much in the current crisis in the country by the wrong use of its staff .Col. Philph Aguer ,Brig.Gen. Malaak Ayuen, Hon.Micheal Makuei Lueth have carried alots of damages to the image of National Television and they should not continue preaching hate messages and fabricating lies to the public. The whole world, Africa and south Sudan in particular is tied of your evils in formations.

In conclusion this message is representing the voices of south Sudanese who are tied and bored by the Dinka language which is randomntly used in the national TV shows, ceremonies, party public turn up and events.

I wish Kiir’s government will come back to its own senses and realized that SSTV is a National Television and not Dinka own television.

Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut is the Secretary for Information of Uror youths.

Federalism sufficiently not confederacy

By Deng Turuk Liem

June 12, 2014 (SSNA) -- There are handful promulgating arguments against and for a proposed federal system as impressive tool for restructuring South Sudan, amongst South Sudanese citizens. Many people especially from greater Bhar El Gazal, as matter of facts, have even gone far in demonstrating their grievances against federalism by asking what seems to be serious question to them, as if the federalism is going to be fully implemented, will the remains of our martyrs who died all over South Sudan during liberation struggle be collected and delivered back to where they were belonged?

On other hand, greater Bhar El Gazal youth’s forum convened in Warrap State on the 3rd of June 2014 and published by Gurtong site, decried its intention against federal system coined lack of developments, insecurity and tribalism as fundamental reasons behind their decision. Their resolution, however, eloquently demonstrated that forming federal state at the backdrop of tribal conflicts, where tension between states and tribes is still at high level and the insecurity where arms rebellion becomes a habit is not a great idea to begin with as it will promote tribalism and all ills come with it. This forum unknowingly or knowingly instead was, therefore, declared its supports for devolution governance system as good system to start with and that it will pave a way for us to a peaceful federal system in our maturity time.

Devolution is defined as an act or a process by which a central government gives or delegates power, property, etc. to local groups or governments. It sounds great, but if they took a look at it very closely with insight and tremendous senses of understandings, they would understand that, it is what we have in hands currently. As per my understanding, it is a status quo. It is not a new political solution to use for diagnosing current political predicaments. It is, notwithstanding, a failed old political instrument that cannot be reused any longer in diagnosing our current deteriorated political situation.

In our current system of government, albeit, everything that we do in our states, counties, payoms and bomas, is what our central government in Juba delegates or mandates us to do. All revenues throughout the country, include the two percent of oil shares allocate to oil producing states, are collectively taken to Juba first and later reallocated back to states, counties, payoms and bomas by central government with specific mandates attached to for states and local governments to execute. This system did not work and will never work or give us any easy path to nation-building. If this is the case, we all must be hungry with devolution system of government and reject it big time because it is what had failed us and dauntingly promoted tribalism, nepotism, corruption and unintermitted arm conflicts.

My simple response to the opponents of federalism who call it a quit is that, Sirs, federalism sufficiently not confederacy. It is not a divided independence nations with different national constitutions as you are allegedly put it. In this case, you might, however, confuse it (federalism) with confederalism where different countries from region form confederal government merely to defense the interests of that particular region. In confederacy, each country has it owns national constitution, army, currency, judicial, and etc. The relevant examples of confederal governments available on top of my mind are AU, EU, IGAD and Arab League among others.

In contrast, unlike devolution, federalism renders full constitutional rights, but not delegations of powers to state or local governments, as in case of devolution. It is, however, a system that constitutionally enhances full decentralization of a democratic government where state governments have an independent constitution and mutual responsibility to make it owns decisions, renders services to its own designated population, and creates development programs in its own realms without any interference from federal government. The national government has stakes only on those programs which it provides funding for. In liberal federalism states such as the United States of others, each state has rights to repudiate any national government programs which carry heavily mandates and restrictions.

It is a system where a national security businesses such as national defense, foreign affairs, interior, federal judicial, include Supreme Court and other important national installations which states cannot handle to manage, are run by and/or permanently remain in hand of national government, that means one country with fully decentralized government system. For your vivid information, the army of Federal Republic of South Sudan will not be separated, hence, they will live, deploy and fight together under one commander-in-chief in any conflict that needs their participations as brothers and sisters in one national army. But, not as private recruited Doot Koch Beny militias who created havoc in Capital Juba in name of fabricated coup d’état and terrorized population based on tribal grounds.For these reasons, we do not have any validated reason deems fit to collect the remains of our martyrs and delivered them back to where they were belonged since we will remain having one national government with one national army.

I personally believe that, federalism is what will earnestly spare us and our diversity as nation. Without it coherently implementations, the army conflicts will never cease in South Sudan as the power struggles over centralized national resources will never halt. It is a system that will indiscriminately obligate all South Sudanese citizens staying and participating in developing of their home states, counties, payoms and bomas, rather than to run away from home and reside in Capital Juba without a portfolio simply because Juba designated a place where national resources are strictly held.

The majority of those innocent Nuer who lost their lives in Capital Juba in the aftermath of December 15, 2013 event, were jobless who had nothing to do in their home states to rely on for living. Then, they went to Juba looking for jobs because Juba was only a designated place for them to go and got employments, be it a production or profession.

James Wani Igga, the current vice president of Republic of South Sudan, on the other hand, unpleasantly urged Equatoria people in their consultative forum convened in Juba last week not to support a proposed federalism idea by rebels, even though he has been constantly an utmost supporter of this great idea, simply because it is a stolen thing from them, the Equatoria people by Dr. Riek Machar. He was even gone in depth by mentioning that, it was stolen from us here in Nyakuron Cultural Center by Dr. Riek Machar. He (James Wani) referred to Equatoria conference that took place back in 2011 shortly after South Sudan became independence sovereignty state and it was event where they came up with federalism idea as it should be utmost system to governing South Sudan. James Wani Igga joined by his boss Salva Kiir Mayardit by elaborating that, federalism idea is not Dr. Riek Machar proposal. It is a proposal that South Sudanese had demanded since Juba convention and went on.

Based on my personal understanding, and I share it too with other commentators is that, the arguments could not be about who proposed it at the onset, but it could be about, if it is a good proposal to be implemented. If this is the case, the second argument should be about which of two or more form of federal systems is best for us?The two important form of federal systems are parliamentarian and presidential.

1. Parliamentarian federal system: It is a system that is run by prime minister as a leader of parliament and when citizens go for elections they are elected parliament along with chosen candidates by parties for prime minister Position. Whichever party wins supermajority of vote in parliament possesses Prime Minister Position and that party must be deemed a ruling party for that particular term of that government. If no party wins supermajority, therefore, the unity government should be formed through bilateral agreements until next elections cycle surfaced, and that the party with small margin victory takes the Prime Minster position and the ministries department heads could be appointed subsequently, according to how many seats each party possesses in parliament.

In the absence of Kingdom (King or Queen), the parliament shall appoint president who mandates is to step in to dissolve parliament should it needs or deems fit through certain conditions and criteria inscribed in national federal permanent constitution to follow in case of national political crisis or failure to governance the country like what had happened to General Salva Kiir government, meanwhile the judicial remains attaining its own independence to interpret laws in need of justices or given checks and balances. 

2. Presidential federal system: It is a system where citizens are directly elected president and parliament. The president afterward is mandated to appoint judicial branch of government officials or judges, and totally he or she has no any capacity or power to intervene with parliament business as an independence elected representatives of the people rather than to engage collectively with them in national discourses. In this system, all branches of government attain their own independence to give checks and balances to each others.

In this system, like parliamentarian system, each designated state attains their independence with their state constitutions, wholly or partially, not interfering with national constitution. Should there is any allegedly interferences with federal law, the federal judge would intervene with scrutiny and declared such a violation of federal law unconstitutional. It is system that all citizens will pay federal as well as state government taxations. In case of South Sudan, where resources may be held by state governments, therefore, each state can contribute equal shares to federal government.

Lastly, Mr. Wani Igga and them (Federal system opponents or critics) would have known that any proposal always hails from one smart person in society and that it may be pushing for implementation by others with utmost convictions and dedications, if it needs be. Claiming that, it was not originally Dr. Riek Machar’s proposal; therefore, we must not support it until the dead come back to live, is unsubstantiated arguments. Hence, it lacks elucidative. It will not take us anywhere as people and the nation. It has never been the case in the whole world because of that, Mr. Salva Kiir and Wani Igga should mind their own businesses and leave South Sudanese alone in this quest for federal system. We are for federalism and we will never back down from its quest until we achieve it.

Mr. Wani Igga must understand that Equatora will not do it alone without the participation of Upper Nile. Given invigorate supports to Salva Kiir and Bhar El Gazalians elites to implement their dauntingly marginalization programs at the expense of South Sudanese attributed to the killings of Nuer innocent civilians, is unwise and disproportionate.

Mr. Salva Kiir, you had unpleasantly mentioned that, you could not force it (federalism) on us, the people of South Sudan, but people would decide it themselves. Absolutely Mr. Salva Kiir, we, the people have never attempted to force you to do it for us through your unwanted presidential decrees as you allegedly put it. We are tired of being ruled by excessive presidential decrees. You have excess the edges of executive orders. However, we, the people of South Sudan are the ones who demanded it (federalism) ourselves and we will implement it ourselves. We do not need you to do it for us. I think I make  it abundantly clear to you Mr. Salva Kiir and that you clearly understand it now better than before.

Most importantly, I therefore not recognize you as either my or South Sudan president because you had lost the legitimacy to be president after you systematically massacred my people on tribal grounds for political reasons. And those in fact were your national constituencies who were elected you in 2010 elections before you untimely sent them to their new homes in heaven in 2013.

The author is South Sudanese living in the United Stated. He can be reached at email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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