How Federalism becomes connected to Rebellion?

By: Dengdit Ayok, JUBA, JUL/07/2014, SSN;

Federalism in South Sudan’s Political History:

Federalism was a historical demand by South Sudanese in the former unified Sudan. And in the light of this fact, the demand for federalism in our political arena in South Sudan nowadays is not something new at all, because our leaders demanded for it in 1950s and 1960s of the last century.

Dr Mansour Khalid, a great Sudanese intellectual, writer and historian, asserted in one of his books that the southern Sudan MPs in the Sudanese parliament in 1950s demanded for federalism.

Late Hon. Benjamin Loki who was then representing Yei, voiced out this political demand in the parliament on December 12, 1955. He suggested the formation of political parties conference in order to come up with the position of including the emergence of a federal state in the declaration of the independence of the Sudan.

The demand was rejected by the northern political parties, but they later on accepted the inclusion of the following provision into the declaration of the Sudan’s independence: “The demand by Southern Sudanese for federation shall be put into consideration”, but it was soon thrown into the dustbin of history and considered to be a political sin and treason.

Among South Sudanese politicians who demanded for federation were: Stanislaus Abdalla Baysama, Both Diu, Aggrey Jaden, William Deng Nhial and Fr. Saturnino Lohore.

The demand for federation for the second time in 1956 Round Table Conference after the first demand for it in the 1947 Juba Conference, later on resulted into the assassination of William Deng in 1968, three years after the the Round Table Conference and the assassination Fr. Saturnino Lohore at Sudanese-Ugandan borders.

The plan for his assassination was coordinated by the Sudanese Military Intelligence with Ugandan Military Intelligence.

Hitherto, federalism is a historical demand that had resurfaced in Equatoria region conferences.

Resurfacing of Federalism after self-determination

A Technical Committee was formed in 2011 after the announcement of the results of the referendum in which our people exercised the right for self-determination. The Committee was under the chairpersonship of Justice John Luk Jok and its task was to write a constitution for the new country.

The SPLM party that had been talking about ‘How the Sudan should be governed, not who should govern it’ came up with a system of governance known as ‘Decentralized democratic system’ which was accepted and adopted by its members in the committee and in the parliament two days before the declaration of the independence.

It must be clearly stated here that the issue of system of governance is not a major reason that triggered the ongoing war in the country.

The main issue that triggered the war is originally an internal party issue. It was the amendment of basic documents namely: SPLM Manifesto and its Constitution, and more specifically, the issue of open and secret vote that determines the election of the party’s chairperson who should later on become the SPLM presidential candidate in 2015 general election.

Machar opted for secret vote and Kiir opted for open vote. The two gentlemen were on their two opposite directions!

The last Equatoria Conference came at the time in which the country is facing a terrible fighting. It was at this time that the demand by the people of South Sudan in Equatoria for federalism became connected to the rebel’s agenda.

The rebels held their own conference in Nasir in February this year. Federalism was one of the recommendations of that conference as the best system of governance.

Alfred Lado Gore, the second man in the hierarchy of rebellion, who is from Equatoria region, and his boss Riek Machar adopted the internal demand for federalism by the Equatorians for the purposes of political polarization in order to win the Equatorians to their side and support their rebellion.

There were secret communications in this regard.

Machar’s call for federalism is not genuine

The call by Riek Machar for federalism is not genuine and it is not emerging from his personal thinking and conviction because Equatorians have been calling for federalism before the independence and during the two year time he has been occupying the position of Vice President after independence and he never joined them or backed their call.

Therefore his abrupt call now for federalism is a mere tactical necessity for winning the people of the region to his side to support his rebellion and convert their peaceful call for federalism into violence and the use of guns; and hence push their region into abyss and oven of war.

And indeed the rebels have succeeded in communication with the people of Equatoria, but their attempt to convert the peaceful call of the Equatorians into a hostile demand has drastically failed.

The country almost slipped into another chaotic situation of bloodshed last week, worst than that which took place in Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu and other areas that had witnessed war since December, but all the efforts to do were frustrated.

The attempt was preceded by strong war propaganda in form of rumors spearheaded by pro-rebels websites such as: (Nyamalepedia, South Sudan Tribune and South Sudan News Agency).

The rebel activists took their time and carried out their war propaganda in social media by circulating rumors in order to create confusion and strike the internal cohesion through dangerous rumors, such as claiming that President Salva Kiir was planning to arrest the three governors of the region (Konga, Bakasoro and Lobong) to kill them.

The two governors (Konga and Bakasoro) played a great role in refuting these rumors. Their public appearance to speak to address the citizens was a great contribution towards maintaining relative peace and the saving the fragile situation.

War aggrandizement and targeting the Dinka tribe

The most dangerous part of this propaganda is that the rebel activists do not differentiate between the Dinka tribe as a community and the government of South Sudan as an official body that is running the affairs the country on behalf the people. To them, the Dinka tribe is the government and vice-versa.

The essence of their mobilization and polarization is calling on the other tribes of South Sudan and allying them against the Dinka tribe, not the government of the Republic of South Sudan and its.

Have you now seen how those who had claimed to be fighting for democracy are now calling and trying to wipe away the Dinka from existence instead of fighting to bring about the democracy they passionately claimed?

I personally appreciate what the governor of Central Equatoria state Hon. Clement Wani Kong said on Thursday, July 3, 2014 in his last press conference, when he clearly stated that: “I will not accept federalism that is brought through blood”.

This was a clear rejection of bringing about federalism through the use of an armed violence. This is what Mr. Jacob K. Lupai articulated in his last article published here on this website, and I must acclaim him for that.

War must be rejected for reasons well known to all of us. My personal opinion on federalism is clear. I don’t reject it and I don’t oppose those who are talking about it.

It is their legal right to talk about it peacefully. And I have added my voice to those who have proposed earlier that we better sit down as South Sudanese to discuss the system of governance that is fit for our country in a national constitution conference, and reach consensus around it, be it federalism or unitary or parliamentary system or any other system we deem fit.

I have also said that the current ‘Decentralized system’ doesn’t differ very much with federalism. In a nutshell, federalism is devolution of powers between the central government and the states and equitable sharing of resources in one country.

Our states now have their executive, legislative and judicial organs with fair share of national resources, and there is separation between central and state powers in the constitution.

I reached this conclusion after making a thorough comparison between the two, Decentralized and Federalism.

I believe in peace and peace will surely prevail. The pursuit of peace will overcome the propaganda of praising war and bloodshed and all the ongoing attempts aimed at plunging the country, particularly Equatoria, into another atrocious and horrendous war like the ongoing war in Upper Nile region, will surely die away.

I call on all my fellow South Sudanese in the country and around the globe to work for peace and stop war propaganda and sowing seeds of hatred, tribalism, disunity, discord and aggrandizement of war through social media. Peace will surely come and war propaganda will end.

O God, we praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan,
Land of great abundance,
Uphold us united in peace and harmony.

Mr. Ayok lives in Juba. He is reachable at


  1. Abiel says:

    I do not know where the confusion came from between two groups .the group calling for federal system and the group calling for non federal system. but what I do know the country now in the haft of the federal system and what is left is to completed the federal system but if we saying that we don,t want federal system or deny that we are not in federal system then we don,t know what kind of system we are or wanted. because South Sudan ready had 10 states just the government need to finished what it left because the federal system is a right of South Sudanese since 1947 and not belong to the rebel Macher or Equatorians like what the others people thinking.

  2. Eli says:

    Mr. Ayok,
    Obviously you are a dinka who hates Nuer people. Contrary to your claim that Nuers wants to eradicate dinkas is very bias, it was the dinka militia who carried out massacre against the Nuers. What kind of men are you when you kill women, children, old people just for being Nuer tribe?
    With all your history knowledge of the past unfortunately you have short memory of your tribe committing genocide in Juba. Your attempts to try to differentiate between dinka and SPLA/M fall very short again you forget that this very SPLA/M was form to destroy Equatoria, to retaliate kokora, your people keep singing the songs of “we liberate you”, “born to rule” “we colonize Equatoria” and bluh bluh…….bluh. Have you or any dinka intellectuals come out to condemn the killings of Nuer? The killings last week in Maridi? or have you spoken to your people about respecting other people’s right? I think the best thing for you to do is to educate your dinkas about civility, why not? Dr John Garang use to take time during or in the middle of his speeches to teach or caution the dinkas to respect others, in thok monjiang, that was the spirit of a unifying figure. There never will ever be any dinka like John Garang ever again. He could have fixed this mess in a week had he been alive. What a loss? he left you orphans and for sure dinkas are now fighting to survive and this is the last kick of a dying horse. Your people are like wounded buffalo wanting to go down with as many souls as you could kill.
    Ayok, all that I read in your lengthy article is trying to condone your evil actions against other tribes and you are trying to shed crocodile tears. You dinkas are to be blamed for everything going wrong in South Sudan. Indeed you make it so easy for the Northerners to claim that they predicted this very moment. I for one wish we listen to the Arabs and waited longer before this bogus independence, I am sorry but I don’t see prosperous future for South Sudan in the near future with dinkas in the leadership, you failed and you need to come forward and have courage to admit that you failed and ask for forgiveness so we can reconcile and resuscitate this skeleton falling apart in pieces.

    • monychol says:

      Eli, John Garang was born and raised by his Dinka Twic section and they are there in their Twic East county still reasonable and thoughtful.

    • Shamga says:

      You asked, ‘What kind of men are you when you kill women, children, old people just for being Nuer tribe?’
      I don’t know what you mean by that dumb question. You sound like you were born just 5 years ago when you may be a sexagenarian. In your 60s you are expected to improve in thinking, but virtually, instead, you are manifesting mental deterioration as the age counts up. Do you know that if you want to be fair, you should condemn both the recent past and the old past?
      Are you aware that history didn’t start with the killing of nuer in December last year? During the inception of the movement in the 1980s dinka people were generally willing to put their faith in everyone including nuer in the past, and everyone was expected to do so in reverse. All this feeling was supposedly a voluntary sacrifice from everyone as the target enemy was arabs.
      But the nuer aims were subjective and different. As the news about the rebellion spread, many civilians from different parts of the country scramble to bilpam to join the movement. And for most dinka getting there, passing through nuer land was the only way. But the nuers, out of some unknown reasons, intercepted and kill thousands of dinka brothers who were reaching for the training camps in Ethiopia. This was bitter news for everyone, but it was forgiven and live went on with the target being arabs. But yet again in 1991, the avenues of nuer morality were invaded by the propensity to derive pleasure out of death of other communities’ innocent members. And they set off for bor and Rumbek, were they again killed thousands of women, kids and old people, and loot everything, living nothing but hunger and death. There was nothing done as the dinka were busy fighting the rampant arabs, but this time the anger grew greater. However, it was only left as pent up emotion.
      History is important. Ancient cultures devoted much time and effort to teaching their children family history. It was thought that the past helps a child understand who he is. Modern society, however, has turned its back on the past, and people like Eli, who would remind young ones of the importance of the past, are living a pretentious live of intentionally throwing away the past and making everything looks like it starts today. Of course, we live in a time of rapid change, a time of progress. We prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going, not where we come from. But if someone keeps reminding of the past in a way so bad, it prompts the stored anger to set in and take the stage in the mind on the present. So, don’t talk about that as if the past death happened on animals rather than humans.
      We forgive, forget, and try to be inclusive. But continuing to isolate and shame someone with a shared identity is considered an injury to the own self of similar distant communities, we believe. This will always prompt revenge. And the fact that the past killers had openly boasted of having done it, was one other reason why the killing would have happened in december. Remember years back when Dr. Risky Masochist Taunted Devil was press to admit, and regret the unnecessary killing of the dinka civilian in that past in Juba, he described it as myth, while boasting about it in his privy with his ugly fellows at drinking places. Imagine someone killing your people and describing the situation a myth, while boasting about it at occassions, how would you feel? Whatever explanation you give, if it only underscores the recent Juba death and forget about the past, it sums up you as another idiotic character here on this website. You can’t talk about the present without reflecting the past if you really want to solve the problem, or mitigate the situation.

  3. monychol says:

    If you know that the tactic is to isolate the Dinka and make them the bad guys, then why won’ t you talk to your thugs?

  4. Nyarga Ebbi says:

    You are a beneficiary of the current system which is why you support The Decentralization that the current system of Goverment and Tje President, in particular is utilising, such as the dictatorship of relieving elected public Servants by the infamous practice of Decrees. What is the difference between Juba and Khartoum then? You are just being used, man….!

  5. Mathon says:

    Equatorian are worse than nuer but will remain crying that way forever.

    • wanilosake says:

      You dont know what you saying
      No one is worst accept the enemies of south sudan you want us Equatorians to be worst so that south sudan is no where?
      Nuer Love Power Dinka the majority dont love power but in democracy they get it when we are divided but if equatorianms and nuer become allies we beat dinka like in autonomous goverment 1972
      equatorians dont hate dinka but bor dinka with their cows created havoc in juba county which make us hate dinka not all dinka we inter marries with dinka but nuer are a closed society


  6. WutmiBumBum says:

    The author of this article is a useless man. His article smells too bad.

  7. Bol Khan says:

    Dengdit Ayok have you ever heard of Dr. Riek, called for Self-Determination–total Separation from Suda?. Southern Unionists termed Machar called as not genuine but it was. Likewise whether you call this call as not genuine, time will prove as it had done for Dr. Riek’s argument in 1990s.

  8. Ogalam says:

    Mr. Dengdit,

    The people of Equatoria region are peace lovers and that is why they have stated their opinion in Juba on how to resolve the current crisis. Unfortunately President Kiir has now come out very clear that Equatorians should be the next target because of talking about federalism. He even went further by equating Federalism with kokora that Equatorians will expelled all non Equatorians from their region. We could have forgiven him if he is just another normal person from cattle camp. But being head of state and making statements that divide a country on ethnic line is a serious matter.

    If person like you Mr Dengdit would like to see peace return back to South Sudan then you need to convince Kiir to stop his negative campaign against others. Better still try to explain to him federalism in Jieng language so that he may understand. South Sudan will not have peace if some people think they are the only one who can provide solutions to the current crisis. What Equatorians has proposed” Federalism” is part of the solutions to the conflict if Mr. kiir does not know. Therefore nobody will stop us from discussing or speaking out our mind. No any single community in South Sudan can complain to monopolize ideas. Please convey this message to Kiir.

  9. Taban Hakim says:

    Salva Kirr ought to stop negative campaign about federalism-the system of federalism isn’t only required by Equatoria region. Upper Nile region demands federalism as well as Equatoria region-plus some sections of Bahr El Ghazal. The question is -why only Dinkas get paranoid of being expelled from Equatoria states when federalism was/is established as for running the government? Why not other tribes? If they believe that Equatoria states will chase them- why? Salva Kirr must refrain himself from tarnishing Equatorians as bad people. Telling the crowd that if they grant the federalism to happen, they will be expelled from Equatoria states- is/was a pure lie. Nobody is going to accept what he says during independent day. He wants central system of government to continue so that he stays in official for life. Not only that but his tribe to continue the country.

  10. Wad Juba says:

    This lame attempt to rewrite history will not work. Do your research properly to find out the origin of this demand for federalism and how it has continuously come up in the history of the struggle of the people of South Sudan.

  11. Peter says:

    We have long way to go but if we keep going we will reach there. It is what we say that make us disagree or agree. If we can only learn to agree to disagree we shall be a great united and prosperous nation. I look forward to a day when we call our selves South Sudanese, and not Dinka , Nuer ,Bari etc, or greater this and greater that.

    • macar Bak Akec( Sam) says:

      you people need to understand, that the writer of the article, is only added his contributions to the ongoing debate about the purposed federal system, it looks like any body that have a name of Dinka is not allow to participate in this debate, I believed the writer of the article didn’t committed any crime but just his name is Dengdit, what kind of debate is that? let deal with his contributions not his tribe or his name for a better debate.

      Macar Bak Akec ( Sam )
      could be reached at lived in USA.

  12. kolangthok says:

    My friend Shama;It is you who will regret your word when Uganda leave you don,t expect this fake peace as it is chance
    for your survival believe me my dear in the name of Jesus I tell you the truth when time of reveng come for what you did in Juba,you will feel shame of being S.sudaness.For now you may considered as it is joking,but you will recall it one day.As person of s.sudan ask your old,last time Dr.John Garang Killed Samuel Gai,as aresult,we kiled F.Ngor and Kuot Atem and other Spla hight commands I think as educated you should feel sorry b/c our country failt into the ring of reveng.Now U ganda who protects you today,have you ever ask yourself that,when will Uganda will continue proctecting this reveng?
    As to me remember my name and ask me one day if there will be no reveng.

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