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South Sudan is heading to another unpredictable uncertainty if the imposition of 28 States is not reverse

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

January 17, 2016 (SSNA) -- The implementation of the Compromise Peace Agreement stood in limbo nearer to crack if JMEC, IGAD and all players are not responded promptly as too many datelines had been violated since January 4, 2014, when peace talks started.  One afraid current JMEC dateline that stated “the new transitional parliament will pass the amended transitional constitution on January 19, January 20 President will assent the amended constitution, paving the way for formation of the transitional government of national unity on January 22, 2016” will be met; due to Salva Kiir nullify violation of the agreement. The purpose of this article is to look at the ongoing controversy regarding Salva Kiir’s Presidential Decree number 36 dated October 2, 2015, which aim of creating 18 more new States out of the ten existing States, that could eventually bring the number of States in South Sudan to 28, if the Decree will find blessings from those who opposed it. Before diving deep into this deviate issue, one would first like to praise former Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor Kuol and former Governor of Unity State Taban Deng Gai, currently serving as the chief negotiator for the armed opposition, for their bold statements during SPLM mislay convention on Thursday January 7, 2016 in Juba, regarding the creation of more States at this particular time when the country is gearing toward the implementation of the Compromise Peace Agreement for conflict resolution. According to two gentle-men names are mentioned above, creation of 28 States is unnecessary and it will complicates the Agreement implementation.

This author is in line with them. Below are some implications 28 States would generate if Salva will be allowed to impose 18 more States on people:

To be precise and frank, the issue of 28 States is adding fuel to already burning country.  Since the outbreak of the crisis in South Sudan in 2013, South Sudanese people had been sharply divided between ethnic-lines. Momentarily, this division is being widening by the creation of 28 States, an idea Salva Kiir stolen from the rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar whose in May 2014 proposed that South Sudan original ten States which Sudanese government had created in 1997, must be expanded by adding 11 more States. Riek justified that he based his proposal on the “British colonial Districts” which according to him, has clear delineated borders that were demarcated before 1st January 1956. When Riek revealed the proposal and availed it to IGAD mediators, Salva Kiir and his cohorts had repeatedly rejected the proposal as a rubbish. Even the idea of Federalism Dr. Riek had also proposed to be adopted as the system of governance in an awaited new transitional government of national unity was swiftly rejected.

Surprisingly, on October 2, 2015, Salva Kiir surprised the whole world by issuing a decree creating 18 more States after the peace had already been signed. The move surprised everybody because during the negotiation, Salva was more adamant by not supporting more States’ creation. What changed his mind this time around? One would assumed that, he might have been persuaded by his kin folks that Riek will win the heart of South Sudanese people once transitional government of national unity is put together for his proposal of 21 States. Secondly, Salva might have been engineered by some influential tribesmen especially Jieng---council of elders to create more States base on Dinka interest in the country. Unlikely for him and his cronies, the move he had taken is very controversial, which is the reason why, when the news of more States’ creation was announced, South Sudanese as well as non-South Sudanese alike, voiced their concerns about hassle 28 States will bring. Some were supportive and the rest were opponents. Salva backers perceive the news with great jubilations and celebrations while others met it with condemnations and dismay. The discussion was not healthy in all counts. To his backers, “banydit aci goth areet”, given that he had annexing territories. However, to his opponents, there is a great discontent with the annexation of land from some ethnic groups and 28 States creation will continue to endanger inter-ethnic conflicts in foreseeable future. One could not see any reason why these newly created 28 States will not bring skirmishes between sections, clans or tribes once it’s indeed imposed.

The plan is hazardous and abomination to those whose land is being annexed. Since October 2, 2015, people have been arguing daily on the issue of 28 States. Individuals as well as groups rejected the notion of 28 States very vigorously. Among the organizations which rejected 28 States’ creation were SPLM-IO, SPLM-former Detainees, SPLM-DC and many other entities including individuals and international institutions. In a brief analysis given by Douglas H. Johnson an expert in South Sudan history, Johnson indicates that “there is no enough information on the exact location of the boundaries.” For example, in the State of Upper Nile, which has been divided into three States, (Latjor) for Nuer, (Western Upper Nile) for Shilluk and Dinka dominated (Eastern Upper Nile), Shilluk land of Malakal has been given to Dinka State of Eastern Upper Nile instead of being included in Shilluk Western Upper Nile.

Previously between 2005 and 2011, Shilluk and Dinka clashed multiple times over the ownership of Malakal during (CPA) celebrations. Currently, Shilluk are protesting the annexation of their land to Dinka. They have written extensively to the world’s powerful bodies such as United Nations, European Union, African Union, IGAD and its partners; but most importantly to Salva Kiir himself persuading them to let Salva reverse his infamous decree. Up to the moment, there is no positive respond toward their call for reversal.  Salva seems to defy all voices that clamoring and calling upon him to recall the decree. One would like to assert, government ignorant and throwing their grievances away as rubbish is a wreck without immediate repair.

Beside Shilluk land, part of Nuer land is annexed to Dinka Eastern Upper Nile even the Upper Nile oil has been given to Dinka. Moreover, Maban in the East has been included in the so-called Eastern Upper Nile State. Even Burun and Koma who have previously been parts of Pagak, Maiwut and Longechuk, had been included to Dinka State. One do not sure how katin, Kisgille, Dajo and other towns that lined up with Pagak, Maiwut and Longechuk respectively, can be taken away to be merged with Eastern Upper Nile of Dinka!

In unity State which he has been divided into three States included, Northern Liech State, Southern Liech State and Ruweng State, Nuer land of Mayom and other surrounding areas attached to Dinka counties of Pariang and Abiemnhom has been annexed to Dinka Ruweng State.  Even the oil fields has been taken from Nothern and Southern Liech States and annexed to above mentioned Dinka territory, this area is an awaiting time-bomb. There is no doubt that Nuer will resist giving their ancestral land away to their neighbors because someone has said so.

Then in Jonglei State which he has now been divided into four States, Jonglei, Wesrtern Bieh, Eastern Bieh and Boma; each one of these States is roughly defined by ethnicity. For example, Western Bieh he had created, contains many Dinka settlers among the Gawar Nuer, and the border between Bor District and Eastern Bieh has had many mixed villages. Hence, current division that want to separate those who have been collaborated may danger their collaboration. Moreover, former Pibor County that had now been established as Boma State, had different groups with Murle being the majority over Anuak of Pochalla and Anuak who is minority in Akobo need to stick together with their brothers in Pochalla. Such a division also has another question mark from Anuak people.

Johnson further stated, “There is no clear pattern in the designation of new States.” To him some of the new State boundaries run along the old provincial boundary lines. For instance, Western boundaries of the two liech States, follow the old upper Nile-Bahr el-Ghazal boundary. The northern boundaries of Terekeka, Amadi, Mandi and Ghudwe States follow the old Equatoria- Bahr el-Ghazal boundary. Then the northern boundaries of Terekeka, Imatong and Namorunyang States follow the old Equatoria-Upper Nile boundary. However, Johnson indicates some older colonial ethnic boundaries are retained. He listed Imatong, Namorunyang, and Bor States as those States that appear to follow the old colonial lines as of 1.1. 1956 Districts. In Bahr el Ghazal, Aweil North and Aweil West counties formerly part of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, have now been combined with Raga County to form Lol State. That State has some disputes between different ethnic groups that live there. Johnson continue that new State boundaries will increase internal conflicts, such as the one between Apuk and Aguok in their newly separate State of Gogrial East, or between the feuding sections in Western and Eastern Lakes States. Another uneasy corridor is the cross-border between Lakes and Unity States, oftentimes, raids occurred between Southern Liech and Western and Eastern Lakes, those kind of skirmishes will eventually increase despite 28 States’ creation.

Base on Douglas’s analysis, one may conclude that, the issue is very complicated, which mean, without genuine multi party dialogue, 28 States will greatly increase the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilize the country again.   As the reader may aware, during Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation, technical Adhoc Committee were formed to precisely demarcate and delineate the North-South borderline as of 1st January 1956 with technical assistance from relevant national and international  expertise. Although these committee were faced with a lot of problems but their appointment was an effective move toward CPA implementation. Equally, Southern Sudan ten States were demarcated base on the same formula.

Today if South Sudanese people want to create more States as such proposal would be on the majority of people’s mind and heart, an Ad hoc technical committee could be established first to provide detailed cartographical and mapping with references from Southern Sudan borderlines as of 1st January 1956. South Sudanese nationals and international experts can work together to map the country and demarcate its boundaries after all parties agree on the number of the States the country would need to create.

Salva Kiir’s controversial 28 States, is a trouble in awaiting given that there is no clear information on the location of the boundaries of the new States and counties. There is more confusion than there is solutions, given that Salva did not give details of why he created 18 more States other than saying “SPLM/A vision was to bring towns to people.” Well, “SPLM vision was bringing towns to people” but not dividing South Sudanese people on their ethnicity or annexing some ethnic groups’ land and give it to others.

Furthermore, comprehensive census of South Sudanese communities has not been counted, and nobody have any clue of an accurate representation of the populations of each State and County. Nobody know how many people have been displaced from their original homes and how many have migrated to different locations. One do not think Salva has any idea of how many people can be counted for and qualify to be given a State. He also should have first studied the cultural context of interaction between each ethnic group in the country and see if dividing people base on their ethnicity could actually help the country stability.

In some extend, the division will increase hatred among various ethnic groups. Ethnic conflicts are regularly started by many things including distribution of resources where each group can be determined by their ethnicity, especially who gets what and how much is being determine by one ethnic group. In a collection study conducted by some scholars on ethnicity and boundary maintenance, (Vermeuelm amd Govers; 1994) indicate that ethnic group and boundary maintenance is problematic. In a recent work, Gescjoere and Nyamnjoh (2001) emphasis a notion of autochthony, where each ethnic group is capable of arousing strong emotions regarding the defense of home and their ancestral lands whenever an outsider had intruded. Therefore, ethnic division Salva Kiir is seeking carrying a political disorder. The hostility will start with the land issues and later on resources at a local level. We need to create a fundamental inter-ethnic harmony mechanism that will help tackled the basic means that will unite us. It’s still fresh in our mind that current conflict began as a political power struggle coupled with implications on ethnic conflict exacerbated by the absence of a collective identity in the country. The government’s failure to develop an efficient system to distribute wealth and resources has exacerbated ethnic divides and this by far will be increased by this ethnic division.

Salva Kiir government does not feel threatened, he is willing to ignore popular protest and foreign criticism toward such stolen vision. He is standing firm to really impose these artificial States no matter what. Those who criticize him on the issue of 28 States are his enemy. For instance, members of the parliament in his rotted government are facing dismissal for the reason that they disagree with his impose States agenda. It’s now up to JMEC to get serious if they want the peace implementation to move forward. Many people particularly those whose land is being annexed will hardly surrender to Salva Kiir and his backers’ land grabbing motto.

Oftentimes, imposition of a system on a regional or territory base has never been successful because people can always resist the notion. Therefore, establishment ignited by the few individuals without the consent of the people remain the decision of the few and it’s lack effectiveness due to the fact that it carry poor institutional structures especially when interest of all people had not been harmonized. The generally acceptable norms is that ethnic composition of a country increases the likelihood of conflicts, than States with mix-ethnic groups that are living under the guidance of supreme law of the land. This means heterogeneous State usually base its policies on political parties structure, that makes it easier for most of the country citizens to get access to power given that individuals are chosen because of their potentiality rather than their background or ethnicity.

In summing, for sustainable peace to be achieved in South Sudan, JMEC leadership need to persuade Salva Kiir to reverse 28 States decree. This is when transparency and smooth political dialogue will flourish. Profoundly, the imposition of 28 States is a violation of Compromise Peace Agreement and dangerous move that will cause second round of violence in South Sudan in the near future. Although the stakes are high in terms of peace implementation, yet, issue of imposing uncompromised States will easily leads to conflict and this conflict will lead to disintegration of the regions leave alone rekindling of the civil war. So, in order to create more States in the country, let all parties in the country seat and determine the number of the States. However, States aren’t going to be created on ethnic lines. This will keep us divided for couple more decades before we should embrace our livelihood. What we need in South Sudan is not ethnic division, what we need is federal system where each region or territory will have an autonomy within a whole structured federation. If many countries around the world that are made up of tribal segmentation could learn how to live together as brothers and sisters, why can’t we learn how to live together?

The author is a political commentator: he should be reached through  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Future of Nuer in South Sudan politics remains uncertain!

By Peter Gai Manyuon

January 18, 2016 (SSNA) -- Politically, Nuer are organized in to what might be called “tribes” which consist of further sub-divisions by lineage. The lineages are a major structural factor for political order.  The territorial grouping and lineage groupings are more closely aligned for some purposes than others. There is no overall political authority in the tribal structure. Political activity involves various grouping or separation of the many territorial and clan sections. In recent years and currently , there has been extensive military conflict in both South  Sudan and  Sudan, and the Nuer have become more politically active compare to other ethnicity in South Sudan but the reality is that disunity or dissatisfaction among themselves is always part of their obligation and ideology.

Hence, instead for them  to use  positive political organization ,they are always  opposite to each other based on lack of good leadership structure  that lead to current politics of Sudan People Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM/IO) that ended up with formation of different bodies that are going contrary to each other. Instead for them to fight for a common agenda of addressing the root causes of Nuer massacre that took place on the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th December 2013, they are very busy promoting hatred among themselves and fighting over positions on who to be appoints to be an MP, undersecretary, Deputy Minister or Minister has been the only top agenda since last year 2015 to date forgetting what took them to bushes in South Sudan. What a disgrace? The lives of the innocent civilians that got killed because they were Nuer is put a side and politicians are very busy looking for political accommodation with the same government who carried out genocide on civil population  that consists of elderly women, men, youth and  children. Moreover, serious raping, cannibalism was carried out by the same government to their relatives and they are forgetting the cause of the conflict with positions, what a shame to these [sycophantic] politicians?

More interesting, before the crisis of South Sudan in December  2013, Chief of Staff of Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) was a Nuer and other top government officials were Nuer who were working in the same  primitive Leadership of Cowboy Salva Kiir Mayardit and eventually they did nothing to protect their people because of individual interests among themselves. Furthermore, seventy five (75%) of the Army of the (SPLA) were all Nuer, across the Republic of South Sudan , yet you find that Nuer were everywhere but because of lack of good leadership organization and hatred among themselves  they allow their civilians to be killed in thousands in Juba and they still want to return to the same government. Something must be wrong with the Nuer psychologically or Ngundeng prophecies need to be evaluated again in order for the Nuer to be in the right direction otherwise the political atmosphere of South Sudan is almost isolating the naath community.

However, Nuer in the history of Sudan have been known of always giving a way leadership to the people that they claims to have humiliated them. Hon. Gatkuoth Gual gave leadership to Abel Alier because they were close friends as well Samuel Gai Tut, William Nyuon with Dr. John Garang and eventually President Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar in 2002, 2005 and 2010 respectively. Who is the problem now? Is it the people who took the leadership that are wrong or the people who gave the leadership to other who are wrong?  

Due to globalization ( inter-connectedness) policies ,ideas, plans or tactics and leadership are always achieve through different means either through military force, mediation, negotiation and elections not through prophecies as many people believes on centuries ideologies which lack practical aspects and good judgmental approaches. Interpretations are always full of assumptions, well there have been prophecies but due to too many interpretations and lies added on top of realities, Nuer are misdirected or guided by those who claims to have known the prophecies, moreover they lack accurate information and good research.

Well those who always believes on cultural stories or prophecies should do so but not all the community members should  defend on believes because at the movement, technology is advancing with new ideas and methodologies are always apply on the daily basis, i also want my community Nuer to be innovative in term of ideas and plans for future generations.

In modern politics people believes on practical aspects not traditional ideologies that has got no way through in this new world where realists and liberalism are applying their theories through different ways and approaches. Nuer are the problem to themselves? No one should be blame for their failure in the leadership, the vision to achieve good things ahead of us as Nuer nation is not there at all. Where are we heading? Why don’t we remember the lives of the thousands that we lost during this man-made calculation?

Even thought, we disagree with the realities, Nuer doesn’t have unity among themselves that is why we have the Nuer with Kiir Mayardit government who massacre civilians, we have the Nuer with Generals who defected last year from SPLM in opposition Leadership, the Nuer who are with former detainees, Nuer who are with SPLM in opposition and those who are in the middle. How can we bring this groups to be one body? This should be the main focus at the movement than going for   positions and getting money from the same government that have killed thousands in numbers shouldn’t be the priority and if that is the case people are returning back to the same government, there must be guiding principle to unite all Nuer from various groups for the common interest of the society.

All those various groups have emerged within the Nuer Community, instead we look for ways to unite ourselves as one community that is looking for something ahead of us in 2018, we are busy fighting among ourselves based on individual interests that resulted to abandoning of the movement of Dr. Riek Machar in 1991 and eventually in this current political dilemma where the peace Implementation is between collapsing and implementation. Why don’t Nuer have unity for purpose instead of abusing ourselves on the media? Nuer culture and believes are not follow by most of the elite class!

Practically, on what basis can we claims to win the coming elections in 2018 when at the movement we are having serious differences?

Hence, the Nuer leadership structures is not well defined at the movement, people are moving like goats to do what is good for them not for the community. What a disgrace?  It’s not too late for the Nuer community to unite both in the opposition, government, Federal Democratic Party, former detainees at this particular period of time.  Unity of Nuer can change the political leadership of the Republic of South Sudan as a whole, calling our fellow brothers as Nuer weew, will not help but rather it will demote our potential as the Community for the top leadership of the Country. Democracy is all about the numbers!

In summary, Nuer must have a strategic work plan for the coming centuries in order to accomplish their unity, leadership aspirations and wishes in the current political set up of the Country. There is need to have a comprehensive leadership council that could comprises of sixteen members that are selected based on the counties that Nuer originated from and these very group could form a body that can over see the activities and political ideology of the Nuer in the years to come. Nuer must have the unity among themselves first before they could go to other South Sudanese communities to look for votes in 2018. There is need to have a leadership structure that will address our issues as the community that has got an agenda to achieve. The leadership will help the community to identify who is capable to work for the Nuer interests rather than individuals’ interests. If we have our leadership structure at the movement can determine the prosperity of the Nuer in the nearer future.

Lack of patience and strategic work plan is what is weakening the Nuer in politics and they don’t always agreed on themselves on  what could be done in years coming moreover  what they always focused at is the short term plan that aims on individualism not community interest.

Going to Juba without a political strategy or second plan in hand is not absolute rather, it could be term as political suicidal or suicide mission or desperate journey for positions while putting a side what lead to displacement of the Nuer in South Sudan, even though no one is listening to the suffering of our civilians in UNMISS camps across South Sudan, still there will be time to change the current system that is led by hooligans and primitive Leaders who doesn't value human lives.

It is matter of time, Kiir Mayardit leadership might be scattered like Libya government of Muammar Gadaffi who disappeared systematically with his group, some are nowhere to be seen other are disciplined already through politics.

In conclusion, based on the current political philosophy and realism, Nuer are in disarray and their ideas are contradicting their vision, mission and aspirations of where they belong or what they want to achieve in years to come.  Disorganization of Nuer will lead to the success of other as per South Sudan politics is concern and unity of Nuer will always block any plan against them politically. The future of the Nuer politically in South Sudan remain uncertain unless otherwise, we open our eyes to visualized and predicts what is good for the growth of our next generations.

Nuer must re-defined their destination in South Sudan politics, currently they are just in stage of surviving and future plans remain unknown to themselves.

The Author is an Independent Journalist and Columnist who has written extensively on human rights and democratization processes. Currently admitted in Moi University Nairobi –Kenya to pursue a PhD in Communications Studies. He could be reach This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Poor man’s federalism and the faltering national unity

By Kuach Tutkuay

January 16, 2016 (SSNA) -- In the history of the hunting, only an amateur hunter will go for the cubs before killing the lioness. That is a mismatch of skills whose repercussion may jeopardize the whole hunting or even cost the hunter his life. President Kiir’s unilateral decree on the 28 states has become a streets talk in Juba; nevertheless, it sounds, to me, like a hullabaloo of nursery school kids that only makes sense to them. It is quite a delusion to think of more states when every blade of grass and every grain of sands of this nascent country cries for peace. The issue to me is trivial because it is something we can postpone to a later date and life continues.

But, can we postpone peace?

The peace agreement signed by the two factions was never a good peace for both parties, particularly those who need positions, but it was good for the common citizens of South Sudan who need nothing but to peacefully wake up each morning in a place they can call home. The two warring factions came up with demands that are too far to be reconciled, however, thumbs up to the creativity of IGAD, they came up with a term “Compromise Peace Agreement—CPA II” under which the parties were supposed to compromise. One of the demands the SPLM-IO were forced to let go for the sake of peace was federalism. They wanted more states but they were told that it is not in the best interest of peace, that it should be done later as the IGAD wanted so direly to usher in a peaceful era for South Sudan. The constitutionally recognized 10 states were also recognized by the CPA II and became the basis for the implementation of the agreement.

As if this was a joke, the president issued a decree creating more states, a move that was illegal as per the transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan as well as the Compromise Peace Agreement. The question is, “if the president had this idea in mind, why didn’t he seconded the demand of the SPLM-IO for more states so that they could begin negotiating the number of states they want to create before the agreement is sealed?” More surprisingly, the JMEC chairman accepted that the two parties can negotiate the issue of the 28 states “outside the box” whatever that mean. I was actually wondering if surely people would return into the same box in one piece if they failed to strike an agreement outside the box. Legally speaking, this is a breach of the agreement as well as a violation of the South Sudan constitution. Why would Kiir and Festus keep dogs and yet they bark themselves?

Terming the 28 states issue as “political” and describing it as “not legal” is unethical use of knowledge. It is true that South Sudanese keeps cattle but they are not cattle themselves to be blackmailed in a bright day light. If the 28 states violate the peace agreement and it also violates the supreme law of the land, the constitution, what on earth would one call “legal malpractice” other than this? Technicality alone would not save South Sudan, you may bring all your professorial vocabularies but if it does not dovetailed well with the desire of the South Sudanese citizens, even if it pleases the politicians, you are only postponing a war and it is not a feasible solution.

The well-known rampant land grabbing in Juba has taken a new dimension of a “queasy federalism”. The 28 states is a foolproof plan to grab other communities’ land. For example, the Makal, (Malakal) a historical land of the Chollo people has been given to the Dinka. Of the said 28 states, Dinka alone have 12 states plus the Abyei administrative area which may later be divided into three or four other states. The rest of the 63 tribes which make up more than 80% of the population are left to share only 16 states. Federating the country into administrative blocks is not an easy task that should be done unilaterally; it is not like cutting and slicing a wedding cake. This task should not be done solely by the SPLM, whether in government or in opposition. It needs several stakeholders and more consultation with the local levels. Anyone who continues with federalism at this critical time, whether in government or in opposition, is obstructing the peace process. All we need now is peace, more states later.

The 28 states issue, if open again for discussion, will take us back to square one. It will have no meaning to us that an agreement has been reached. It’s only a logical red herring, a plan to drag people’s attention away from the implementation of the peace agreement into trivial issues. It’s actually an “unnecessary evil” that only impede the smooth running of the current process. It would affect nothing if ignored, but will affect everything if considered. It has both the short- and long-terms ramifications. The short-terms being that it will obstruct the peace process and return the country back to war; and the long-terms are that it will bring about an endless internal communal fighting over land and boundaries issues. All these chatters any hope of achieving a peaceful united South Sudan. The onus is, however, on Festus. He can choose to stick to the CPA II and bring back the lost harmony to South Sudan, or to open up another roundtable in Juba and disintegrate the country. I don’t blame him, if the own sons of the land cannot see for themselves what is good for their people, how difficult will it be for a foreigner to do so. Moreover, if two dogs fight over a bone, a third dog get the bone.

The writer is currently the Chairman of the Nuer community in Kenya, he can be reached This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or follow him on twitter: @kuach444.

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