General Politics

Shelf Those Mini-Tribal States and Implement the Peace Agreement!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

Bravo and congratulations to all those who came out boldly in opposition of the crazy idea being circulated in Juba aimed at gerrymandering political constituencies by restructuring South Sudan into yet 28 mini-tribal enclaves.

As I came across many well-articulated arguments against those 28 tribal enclaves, I thought it would add more power to this noble and patriotic position if I can stand up tall and throw my lot with those who oppose the move and the manner in which the government has gone about imposing it..

As I completely join hands with those opposing this crazy idea, I have no single doubt in my mind that no one will benefit from further dragging the country into more unnecessary tribal animosities simply because some myopic politicians see their ways into leadership only through the unfortunate creation of those mini tribal states.

My hat also goes off for those brave, patriotic and above all nationalistic Members of Parliament in Juba who chose to be on the right side of .

Their staging a walk out in protest of the unconstitutionality of the procedures adopted by the Juba regime to its malicious plans down on the South Sudanese masses is worth the risk taken.

Kiir and his JCE should never be allowed a free hand to impose anything on our people by the way of manipulating, bullying, harassing or blackmailing the peoples’ representatives in the August House.

Going back to the history of our people , one testify that for all practical purposes, the relationships among Southern Sudanese were far better in the 1960s and 1970s when the region existed as Three Provinces of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr El Ghazal.

What our people wanted throughout history was a federal system of government, to which the Jallaba in Khartoum were opposed.

In late 1950s, as the Southern Sudanese voices in favour of federalism grew louder, Khartoum moved in to silence it. Firstly, they used brute force and we resisted it until Addis Ababa Agreement was signed in 1972 and Southern Sudan won semi-autonomous status under a Regional Government structure.

However in order to stop the Autonomy in Southern Sudan from metamorphosing into a full blown federal arrangement , the same Jallaba and their agents in Juba adopted the divide and rule tactics and implemented the first ever move which saw the Southern Sudan region move from three Provinces to six.

Equatoria gave way to Western and Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile gave way to Upper Nile and Jonglei and Bahr Ghazal gave way to Bahr Ghazal and Lakes.

Historically, the currently existing ten (10) states were created under the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime of Turabi-Bashir. The whole exercise was laid and hatched by Sheikh Hassan Abdalla Al Turabi with the sole aim of more ‘Divide and Rule’ policy.

As it can be seen from the above narratives, all throughout history the proliferation of administrative units (provinces/ districts/states/ counties) all came about as the central authority’s attempts at dividing the peripheries in the name of decentralization, while in fact centrally retaining maximum grip on the country’s resources and government power.

Today the voices calling for federalism are still high. What we are witnessing now is that the central authority even in post-independence South Sudan isn’t really any different from its Jallaba predecessors!

It has come with yet another further fragmentation of the periphery. It also came riding on the back of yet another false decentralization while all political powers in the country become even more concentrated in the hands of one individual who runs the centre as if he is running a private enterprise and not a country.

In reality South Sudan doesn’t need all these artificially, yet problematic divisions into those useless mini tribal states.

Why Not Federate on Basis of the “Three Historical Provinces “And Stop Those Mini-Tribal Enclaves!

Indeed ‘Our People’ were better off and happier when they were under the historical ‘Three Provinces’ of Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile.

What South Sudan clearly needs is to regain its lost history and reinstate those Three Provinces structures as the basis for a Three Federal Government unit that will form the Federal Republic of South Sudan.

Of course as with our own experience as South Sudanese, we must not forget that although federalism is meant to devolve most of the powers and resources from the centre to the peripheries, still good governance and rule of law are central to the success of any system of governance.

Let’s us stop all these madness of more states and go back to what we really were before the enemy manipulated us with its mini-tribal structures which are only meant to distract us from the real issues.

South Sudan’s salvation squarely lies in the adoption of a federal system of government based on our historical ‘Three Provinces’ structure and forget about these ill-advised mini-tribal enclaves that are only meant to further de-destabilize the country and its people instead .

However, to be fair to anyone who holds any different views to those here, I totally respect that.

What I would humbly suggest at this stage is since for all of us to join hands in the implementation of the IGAD Plus Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflicts in South Sudan (ARCISS).

As such it will be a good idea that all proposals concerning this matter (including the Kiir-JCE proposal of the Twenty Eight (28) mini tribal enclaves ) be deferred for the time being and be instead presented to the Permanent Constitution Making Process for consideration as enshrined in the Peace Agreement.

Again as the Peace deal is clear on Federalism and devolution of powers and resources, let’s assume at this stage that the battle on these areas has been partly won.

Rightly so, it should only be at the constitution making process that we can argue which way things should go in as far as the number of states or administrative units the to be federal system should embrace.

Whether South Sudan goes back to become what is was in the past when it was only made up of those ‘Three Historical Provinces’ or to the Six(6) Nimeri-Alier structures, or the Ten (10) Turabi-Bashir structures or the Twenty One (21) SPLM-IO structures or the Twenty (28) Kiir- jieng Council of Elders (JCE) structures will all be decided when we are making the Permanent Constitution.

Is it not high time those decrees are silenced once and for all , while we embrace constitutionality and Rule of Law!

Author: Justin Ambago Ramba. Reachable at: justinramba@doctors.org.uk

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