Your Excellency Hailemariam Dessalegn
Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly
C/O Minister Counselor, Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
17 Princes Gate, London, SW7 1PZ
17th February 2016
Re: Violation of the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) and new internal borders.
Dear Prime Minister;
We, the Nuer Community in the United Kingdom, hereby convey to you warm greetings with high hope that the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) between SPLM/SPLA warring factions shall bring about an end to the ongoing suffering and displacement, justice, genuine reconciliation between communities, and lasting peace in our country.
At this point in time, we can only express sincere appreciation for your wise and capable leadership that helped bring about signing of the peace agreement; and may we take this opportunity to thank your Government and the brave people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for hosting South Sudanese refugees.
Despite restored hope for the return of peace to South Sudan, President Kiir and his advisors, the Jieng Council of Elders, have remained committed to maintaining hindrances against any foreseeable lasting peace in South Sudan.
In addition to ongoing ceasefire violations across the country, a notable unfortunate action the president took, shortly after signing of the ARCSS, was a deliberate violation of the agreement. He did that by issuing a decree to unilaterally restructure existed ten states that were agreed upon by all signatories of the ARCSS.
That uncalled action occurred with creation of 28 states, but the move was rejected right away by various South Sudanese civil society groups.
This particular violation of the ARCSS was also objected by the IGAD in an instantaneous statement. However, as we write this letter, President Kiir continues to ignore calls from the South Sudanese public, the IGAD, and their friends in the international community.
Having been evoked by decreed creation of 28 states, our community in the UK has taken steps to revisit sources of background information beside conduction of consultations with members of the wider community in the Diaspora and inside South Sudan.
It has now become clear that the decision taken by the president to redraw South Sudan internal borders is just a pretext of what appears to be a plan aimed at causing or sustaining conflicts between communities.
It is another attempt by the same tribal grouping of Jieng Council of Elders to continue misusing our country’s natural resources against attainment of peace, development, and prosperity.
In view of all these, our community in the UK would like to bring to your attention that President Kiir’s decision to redraw South Sudan internal borders is not only deplorable and illegal but also segregating, alarming, and indeed unpopular as it favours only one tribe at the expenses of many other tribes.
Prior to stating the reasons as to why our community has rejected what appears to be a mapping of new internal borders, we would like to remind your wise leadership about what unites various communities in South Sudan as opposed to what would divide them.
One important uniting factor throughout generations is the land, for which South Sudan lost millions of lives in defence against aggressors before independence of its people.
On the other hand, any attempt to redraw our country internal borders would undoubtedly become a key fragmenting factor with unimaginable implications.
Our community here in the United Kingdom, together with Equatorian Community, Shilluk Community, and Ferteit Community, have jointly rejected unilateral restructuring of states in all three regions of Greater Bhar El Ghazal, Greater Equatoria, and Greater Upper Nile.
The reasons and clarifications why we disagree with President Kiir on the creation of 28 states are stated as follow:
1. The sketch-map showing locations of the decreed 28 states is designed with intention to curve lands that belong to Ferteit, Nuer, and Shilluk communities into states populated by the tribe of the President.
For example, if the decree were to be implemented, two communities in Upper Nile State, namely the Shilluk and Eastern Jikany Nuer, would lose large parts of their ancestral lands to Dinka Padang.
In Western Upper Nile/ Unity State, two Dinka communities, who share no common boundary, would be emerged in a newly created Ruweng State at the expenses of Leek Nuer, Western Jikany Nuer, and Bul Nuer.
Establishment of Ruweng State on Nuer ancestral land would trigger conflicts between Western Nuer and Dinka Ruweng. Even more, large portions of lands in the areas of Gaawar Nuer, Lak Nuer, Lou Nuer and Thiang Nuer of Jonglei State would be annexed to their respective Dinka neighbours.
We have included three sketch-maps herein to further explain why our community has principally rejected creation of 28 states. By comparing and contrasting these sketch-maps, it can be deduced whether the internal borders recently created by President Kiir are consistent or not with the ones that are known to various communities on the ground.
The map numbered 1 illustrates recently created internal borders; the red colour indicates states or lands populated or being annexed to Dinka tribe. While President Kiir would want new boundaries of Nuerland to be within the blue colour, the actual boundaries of Nuerland or actual locations of Nuer or their neighbours are shown on the sketch-maps numbered 2 and 3.
Sketch-map 1: illustration of new internal borders as per President Kiir’s decreed 28 states
Sketch-map 2: Actual locations of Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk, and Anuak
Sketch-map: The Nuer, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Oxford University Express
Sketch-map 3: Locations of the larger Nuer tribes
Sketch-map: The Nuer, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Oxford University Express
2. With full knowledge of territorial boundaries between Dinka and Nuer communities on both east and west banks of the Nile, our community views decreed annexation of our ancestral land to the tribe of the president as an incitement of tribal conflicts.
Since he decreed creation of 28 states, the President has been vocal-claiming that the created 28 states were popularly demanded by the people. As it has widely been understood by the South Sudanese public, this claim is merely based on what being demanded by one tribal grouping, the Jieng Council of Elders.
n their support for the above mentioned unilateral presidential decree, the Jieng Council of Elders, which represents the tribe of the president, came out promptly to endorse the decreed 28 states. The said elders of the president’s tribe also rejoice over creation of 28 states because large portions of lands that belong to other tribes such as Nuer and Shilluk are being annexed to states populated by their tribe.
3. The decreed 28 states were not presented at IGAD-plus mediated peace talks, whereas 21 states as well as federal system of governance were tabled by the opposition.
However, as the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) consistently rejected consideration of federalism and 21 states, it was agreed to address both federalism and restructuring of sates at future talks for a permanent constitution. On that basis, the IGAD-plus compromised ARCSS was then signed by the warring parties without reference to neither 21 states nor 28 states.
It is not just a view but a reality on the ground that the unilateral creation of 28 states shall not promote efforts toward implementation of the peace agreement. It is indeed a serious violation and discouragement of what has been welcomed widely by the South Sudanese public as a truly new beginning toward nation building in the world youngest country.
Without clear boundaries, we also believe that demarcation of new internal borders for the President’s decreed 28 states shall generate endless tribal conflicts in the country.
In conclusion, we appeal to your wise and capable leadership, IGAD and their partners in the international community to press on Gen. Salva Kiir and his Jieng Council of Elders so that they acknowledge facts and use wisdom rather than illogical grounds that have led to wrong decisions.
We call upon your wise leadership of the IGAD Assembly to work for an action that can compel G. Salva Kiir and his Jieng Council of Elders to revoke the presidential decree that created 28 states.
This is imperative for realisation of peace and reconciliation between communities in South Sudan. Our community would also like to appeal for a speedy establishment of the hybrid court that has been promised by the peace agreement.
We further want to express our community’s profound support to IGAD and their friends/ partners, while they maintain engagement with the political leadership in South Sudan. It is our hope that your great country and its wise leadership shall continue guidance and assistance in building a united nation with a government that does not segregate citizens of South Sudan on the basis of ethnicity, gender, religion, or region.
Contact: William Dengchang- Chairman of Nuer Community in the United Kingdom
Cc: G. Salva Kiir Mayardiit- Chairman and C. I. C. of SPLA/ SPLM- IG
Cc: Dr. Riek Machar Teny- Chairman and C. I. C. SPLM/ SPLA- IO
Cc: Benjamin Taban- Chairman of South Sudanese Community in the UK