Treacheries in South Sudan’s conflict: Call for federal system, tribalism, regionalism, tactical warmongering are tools to power & political objectives not genuine political reform

By: Morris K. Yoll, CANADA, JAN/30/2015, SSN;

Many South Sudanese are heartbroken and afraid. Despite peace talks in Addis Ababa, we are uncertain as to the future of our country even if peace is achieved today. December 15th and its merciless consequences instilled horrors and fears in our minds, anguish in our hearts, and disillusionment and mistrust in our coexistence as people of common destiny.

Tribalism, regionalism, hatred, confusion, fear, delusion, and uncertainty appear to rule much of our thoughts. The conflict started as power wrangling within the SPLM. And then it turned into deadly coup attempt on December 15th 2013 and mercilessly continued as a hotly contested tribal civil war between Dinka and Nuer, though the government and rebels downplay it as such.

Yet, people were targeted repeatedly in Juba, Jonglei, Malakal, Unity State, Baliet based on their ethnicities. With all targeted ethnic onslaughts meted against our coexistence as one people, some politicians advocate Federalism as a solution to current crisis, which is absolutely disingenuous.

Per se, not that Federal system is bad for the country or unachievable, but it is not the root cause of the conflict and called for when our coexistence is racially predisposed and debilitated.

Else, haven’t we crippled our cohesion as people in this conflict? And wouldn’t it make sense to first correct things that went wrong to ease ourselves into federal system with love and understanding that would bind us again as one people?

To achieve a sensible Federal system of governance, we need to understand first that Federalism is a democratic system of governance meant for power sharing and service distribution to the people for development; a system in which people exercise their democratic rights to change things and to govern themselves; and not a system meant to divide or separate the same citizens of one country base on ethnicity, tribe or region and so forth.

Having read various writings and comments from many South Sudanese in various forums, Medias, and hearing simple discussions in South Sudanese public conversations, I can attest that majority of South Sudanese hardly understand how federal system of governance function or are simply confused or trying to confuse people of South Sudan in fishing for glory.

Firstly they missed the fact that Federalism wasn’t the cause of the conflict; power struggled was. So Federalism is a bad prescription as a solution to this conflict.

Secondly, some failed to realize that Federal system of governance, in other parts of South Sudan, will group, in one state, the same ethnic groups or tribes that targeted themselves on tribal line in this conflict; so how would it solves ethnic or tribal violence if the essence is to address tribal conflict?

Thirdly, some politicians deliberately want federalism to separate South Sudanese along tribal, regional and ethnic lines. In other words, they think that under Federal South Sudan if you are, for example, from Equatoria region, than you would not work or even live in Warrap, Upper Nile States, etc; that if you are a Dinka or Bari or Chollo and vice versa, you will not have mobility rights in the state other than your state or call a state of your choice a home to stay.

How are sensible are these ideas or thinking since we will live in one united country as one people? Indeed, I once read a ridiculous statement in South Sudan forum, in which a contributor asserted that he wants federal South Sudan, so that in his state they would be able to arrest, jail and deport back to their states those who come from other states and disturb their peace.

Such trivial talks are frequent in most of South Sudanese discussion forums. They are informal but those who are engaged in them believe in what they say.

Anyhow, I have reasons to believe that Sentiments of some of our people who are against or who are for federalism are guided by some kind of hatred and misconceptions or guided by past illusions of kokora era and fueled by December 15th incident views that try to justify premeditated actions as solutions.

During re-division era of Southern Sudan in 80s, decentralization policy turned divisive. Both People of Bahr el Gazal and Upper Nile regions were expelled from Equatoria when decentralization was decreed as a law.

Due to the Kokora’s rhetoric and divide, people were killed, targeted based on their ethnicity and region, which forced people from Bahr el Gazal and Upper Nile regions to repatriate from Equatoria region to their respective regions and Equatorians in Bahr el Gazal and Upper repatriated back to Equatoria Region.

Re-division of Southern Sudan started with the theme of decentralization for development, but in the process turned regionally and ethnically violence having failed to make distinction between decentralization as a governing administrative local autonomy granted to regions to govern themselves and as a system in which rights of citizenship and freedom of movement and settlement of the people of Southern Sudan, regardless of provinces or districts of their origin, are granted, observed and as well protected.

As Re-division of Southern Sudan started as decentralization mechanism meant for development and later turned tribally and regionally divisive, call for federalism as mean for development, today, is slyly and shrewdly deployed with intent to achieve what it is really not a good type of Federal system.

The division of South Sudanese based on ethnicity and tribe has a discriminately built in notion that delimits mobility rights of citizens, a ploy in what would be tribally or ethnically polarized country; a bad example type of Federalism.

The Federalism, by any stretch of imagination is a system of governance that recognizes rights of citizen to choose where to live, work regardless of ethnicity and where one originally hailed from if one is a citizen of the country in question.

With this in mind, the way some of us think our Federalism should be applied base on regional or tribal divide just to do away with people of the tribe one doesn’t want, in a country with strong tribalism practices like ours, is incompatible with unity of the country that needs to achieve “one people one country” idea; and thus viewed by some with skepticism that is prevalent in negatively polarized discussions generated along tribal and regional lines.

Such skepticism, for example, is discerned in the way that youth of Bahr el Gazal Region feels about Federal system proposed by the SPLM-IO. In June 2014, the Greater BAHR EL GAZAL CONCERN YOUTH met in Panthou, Warrap State, and stated some of the followings in the forum, just to mention a few statements in the resolution:
(1)This forum believes the current call for federal system is designed to delimited particular regions or Tribes from power rather that used of democratic process.
(2) We cannot form federal state of governance in poorest country in the world with no industries, infrastructures and its economic dependent on revenues collected at the state borders; a situation that shall make some closed-borders states more at risk/Advantages than the others. These negatively major issues that can even provoke fights even at a larger scale. (3) The federal government cannot control insecurity and across border conflicts as well as cattle ridding, the aspect of creating a civil defense will increased tension among the states. (4) The forum warns the federalists not to used rebellion as ways and mean to achieve a mechanism designed to target a particular region and tribe, (

The youth of Greater Bahr el Gazal believe that Federalism, in current conflict, is a conspiracy intended to get rid of certain region or tribe [in this case the Dinka] in politics.

Although some of the points stated by the Greater Bahr el Gazal Youth are valid concerns, they have reacted out of fear, and as well, they apparently misconstrued concepts or functions of federalism due to the fact that the SPLM-IO leaders who called for Federalism cannot be trusted in this regard and did it as tactics to gain support for their rebellious movement, because “Federalism” wasn’t a bone of contention that started the conflict but it could accord them support, especially, in Equatoria.

The Bahr el Gazal youth, even though they did not allude to kokora’s divide as an exemplary conflict, they demonstrated their fear of conflicts that could arise between regions or states boundaries. In 80s call for decentralization turned regionally or ethnically divisive for people of Southern Sudan.

Fears raised by Bahr el Gazal Youth forum implicitly linked call for Federalism to the Kokora’s era in the 80s in which people of Southern Sudan were politically divided based on regions. The Bahr el Gazal Youth appear to insinuate that Federalism separate people of the same country.

But Federalism doesn’t limit rights of citizens of the same country to choose where to live or work. Federalism doesn’t make states in the same country to collect taxes from one another at the borders. If anything, than Federalism “pool” revenues collected at the borders with others foreign nations plus Federal taxes collected within the country in order to re-distribute taxes equitably to each states for development and services and social welfare.

In comparison, current call for Federalism by some Equatorians and some Nuers counterpart who are Dr. Riek’s supporters is similar to the call of decentralization in 80s. That is to say, advocating Federal system of governance in pretext of the development and service distribution, but with conspicuous proliferations of hateful speech deliveries along ethnic and regional lines, could potentially ignite civil strife along tribal divide in long run.

Equatorians and Nuers Extremists’ statements in various forums and internet mediums preach that Federalism would liberate them from alienation and domination of Bahr el Gazal, specifically the Dinkas tribe.

Even moderates South Sudanese who are pro federalism shrewdly deploy misguided or crafty assertions to promote divide in order to attain Federalism: The ethnic dimension of the ferocious conflict suggests that those who imagine that South Sudanese are one people are nothing but merely wishful thinkers.

South Sudanese will never be one people even if the Son of Mary comes for the second time. What we could be only is as people of one destiny. Being of one destiny was the only unifying factor that brought independence to South Sudan, (Jacob K. Lupai, Federal system of government the Salvation of the South Sudan,;

Unlike many Equatorian writers that I mostly read their contributions on this subject, I consider Mr. Lupai to be a moderate South Sudanese. However, Mr. Lupai in his statement above stunned me. Perhaps, he is lost in trying to put pun into his philosophy or is trying to justify division of South Sudanese base on tribal and regional differences.

This is absurd because three known regions of South Sudan, Equatoria, Bahr el Gazal and Upper Nile are not homogenously inhabited; they are all occupied by various, different tribes of South Sudan that make up these regions.

If Mr. Lupai is trying to justify Equatorians to be one people who are categorically different from people of Bahr el Gazal and Upper Nile regions, then such presumption is erroneous at best, because equatoria is a region inhabited by various ethnic groups or tribes, which implies that if people of South Sudan cannot be one people for ever because they are different and so never would people of Equatoria be one forever.

Nevertheless, nations are amalgamations of different ethnicities, race, cultures, religions, etc that form one unique national identity as one people. Besides, Federations all over the world are created with understanding to embrace cultures in one country and to ease equality of development and distribution of services equitably to the people of the same country.

That is to say, in one country, certain regions or all regions maybe or may not be inhabited by ethnically or culturally or religiously the same groups of people; yet Federalism, as a system of governance, is instituted to attain and promote oneness, equality of development and above all to achieve understanding and promotion of all cultures as proud and unique heritages of one united country.

South Sudan cannot be exception to this harmonious rule and belief in Federal system, though we are in fact homogenously African race, homogenously and culturally African descent, and almost homogenously animist and Christian nation. We have commonalities in cultures, religion, race and ethnicity that we can embrace and value as our heritages.

By historical struggles, by religions, by people and cultures and by geographical delineations, South Sudanese are simply “one people.” We fought for seventeen (17) years and gained autonomy as one people and struggled again in unity for twenty (22) years and achieved independence as one people. Indeed, we have mixed and intermarried now more than previous years or centuries.

Then ethnically, religiously and culturally, we are almost the same African tribes subdivided into groups of linguistically related tribes. Realistically, out of 64 tribes, Tribes in South Sudan are grouped into 8 or 7 categories.

With all these commonalities, why would one capitalized or preached being different to justify adaptation of Federalism in the country and diminished oneness that we indisputably are?

Unless one has a hideous plan in mind or lack ideas that justify better system of governance.
South Sudan is geographically and culturally diverse, vast and remotely undeveloped.

Devolution of power in form of Federalism would assist in promoting rapid development, better exploitation and utilization of resources, and accessibility of basics services needed. Without prejudice and in quest of development that would address marginalization in any of the regions in the country, we can claim any democratic system- federal, circular, unilateral, etc base on our love of democracy and freedom we fought for to achieve for half a century as people.

We should value, development, freedom and democracy because we sacrificed 2.5 million, un-quantified lost of properties and unimaginable indignities to achieve better ways of life and coexistent as people. Freedom, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, as American termed it, should be our quest and motto as a nation regardless of our current limited development.

Instead of the government or unscrupulous politicians withholding better democratic ways of governance, after independence, the SPLM ruling party should be conscious of what it fought for- “the liberation of marginalized people of the Sudan.” After having achieved our independence, I consider Lack of civil liberties and clear democratic system as a mockery to our quest for freedom, “a shame on the SPLM’S ideology” that advocates liberation of “marginalized” people in the Sudan.

Apparently lack of civil liberties had driven us, unnecessarily, to current civil war in which some masquerading leaders in opposition are now trying to champion attainment of civil liberties, democracy or struggle to adopt certain system of governance.

Having achieved our hard earned independence, we should be mindful of our rights and willingly give them so that, collectively, we invest our might and energies to explore our resources, economics and human potentials, to improve our wellbeing as people with no discrimination.

Only in a politically sound environment, free of hatred and ethnic rivalries, shall we achieve understandings that would lead us to explore our collective potentials and as well value our tribal and political differences for our common goods and prosperity as people.

Views that tend to embrace tribal differences to justify regional divide than unity by tribal and regional extremists, are destructive and thus scrutinized with contempt by people of other regions or tribes with intended wrong judgement of issues, let alone considering gentle disagreement to agree on fundamental issues necessary for our progress as a nation.

Extreme and obnoxious views would lead us, as a nation, to a senseless, unnecessary self-destruction for no reason(s) or for no benefits to be reaped but doom in the end-like it is in current civil strife. This should not be of any surprise or ignore, because in the past Equatorians advocates of decentralization in 80s wanted decentralization to “escape” what was termed as a “Dinkas’” or in general “Nilotics’ domination” that subsequently ended up with violence along ethnic and regional line.

Hence, call for regions or tribes to rise up against other tribes or regions, as it was proclaimed by Dr. Tombe Wani, is an impediments to genuine discussions on Federalism, nation building and governance reform in general, because they can only promote hatred and tribal rivalry that obstruct openness and sincerity in debating issues that matter for better future as a country.

Such rivalry has already been generated by the December 15th incident and some Equatorian leaders like Dr. Wani Tombe’s called for Equatorian youth to take up arms and join Dr. Riek’s movement to fight for their rights (

The Jieng Council of Elders press releases on December 14, 2014 that urged Jieng people to defend themselves could be interpreted as a response to their fears of what they see as anti-Jieng: “As the Council of Jieng, we want the Jieng people to know that the anti-Jieng [Dinka] conspiracy to demise the entire Jieng community marches on and to alert our people that we must all stand up to defend and protect ourselves from the world that seems so pleased to celebrate with our haters, our demise,” (

It is scary, sad and pathetic to read such a bellicose call from an elderly council of Jieng that, in this crucial time of crisis in our history, should wisely reach out to amend damages done in our sociopolitical fabrics by December 15th target killings and by senseless and revengeful civil war that ensued afterward in our country.

It is scary to know that even a wise council of elders stooped to duke it out policy. As well, it is pathetic to see a revered body of wisdom giving in to hatred. Not the least, it is sad to comprehend that Jieng society known for its peaceful and careful approach to war conflict issues succumbs to warmongering plot.

It is a bad precedent that our elders are setting on behalf of Jieng society and has to be rejected by Jieng, for there is better ways to go around hatred of Jieng in South Sudan than warmongering defensive call. Never in the history of the Sudan had Jieng ever had political intention to unite to dominate or to fight their enemies in solidarity.

Not even during slavery era when Jieng were enslaved by Arabs; not even during modern Sudan (in 80s) when slavery was revived by Araba in the Sudan; not even during Kokora when Jieng were targeted in Equatoria; not during civil war struggle when Arabs and tribal militias were deployed to attack Dinkas village; not even as of recent era when Jieng villages from Awiel to Abyei and up to Pan-thou and Karsana occupied, and still contested, by Arabs in the Sudan, did Jieng declare their solidarity to fight their enemy or to reclaim their stolen land by Arabs neighbors.

Despite having not declared tribal solidarity in the past to fight its enemies, sub-Jieng communities confronted by hostility of any kind fought their enemies, and in conjunction, as priority, sought peace with enemy for peaceful coexistence.

So why is it now that Jieng’s solidarity is rallied against South Sudanese when Jieng are in better position to change things diplomatically and peacefully? Why now when the Jieng are the ones ruling or in control of South Sudan? Our elders have even gone far to the point of attempting to silent or taunting Jieng members who view current affairs in the country differently: due to what Jieng elders perceive as collaboration with non-Jieng to annihilate Jieng people, they down cast their own who disagree with them: “The hate for Jieng within the South Sudanese community is now very obvious, even to you, the few Jieng, who had been driven by anger and disagreement with the ruling system of South Sudan to join this movement of Riek Machar Teny, so clearly bent on the destruction of Jieng,” (

This is preposterous! However, it is obvious to assert that Jieng Council of elders is coerced by hateful messages directed to Jieng as a society in current conflict. In other words, hateful views in response generate no better understanding but the same hateful views.

Nevertheless, the so called “anti-Jieng conspiracy” should not make Jieng elders to stoop low as they did in the quotation above. As well, Jieng Council of elders went far to obstruct freedom of association in politics of our country in the second quotation. Let me reiterate the same quote for clarity: “The few Jieng…………..driven by anger and disagreement with ruling system… join……..Riek Machar Teny …clearly bent on the destruction of Jieng,” (

What have we really become! In a democratic setting, citizens are accorded right to religiously and politically association as they want regardless of race, ethnicity, etc. Our elders have abused this right by trying to intentionally silent Jieng members with different views.

I quoted the above quotes to make my point in the light of this article. Though, I intend in the near future, on different topic, to comments on such attempts to exacerbate the conflict than solving it.

My advice to MY beloved Jiengs and South Sudanese readers, in general, is to tell them that extreme comments from various writers quoted above, drive us apart as people for no goods but self-destruction. Hatred and extremism of these kinds are intended by those who make them to confuse people and not forgetting their trials in this fashion to discourage diversity in thinking by silencing those who see things differently.

I doubt not that future of Jieng, as a society, is in diversity in thinking than in a collective oriented single view as a society. Jieng, as a society, in South Sudan, has always been in a good side of South Sudan’s history of struggle.

Today, when South Sudan is independence and many people of South Sudan desire Federalism as a system that suites their cultural diversity, Jieng as a society should value this aspiration than to be seen discouraging it. Not the least, Jieng as society, as majority in the country, should be aware of what many would view as a tyranny of society in which a ruling society collaborates with government to withheld rights of others.

As people of South Sudan with no exception, nothing could really drive us, at this point in our history, to hate or divide ourselves when God has answered our prayers in granting us freedom we long for when we were collectively subjugated and bused in the Sudan.

Even brutal December 15th incident, its aftermath onslaughts and ensuing civil war should not drive us extreme or apart as some want it, because they were engineered and forced down our throats to swallow by circumstances. We should treat December 15th incident as a result of weak point in our political system that finally broke loose and needs wise, collective views of all South Sudanese people to address and fix it.

So, if our intent is to accomplish good governance in form of federalism, then we should emphasize on our unity as one people of one united country first, who simply desire implementation of Federalism to achieve democracy, good governance, devolution of power, and equal development to all people of one united country with no discrimination.

In a society like ours in which illiteracy rate is high, with no laws to fight hateful views and no civil liberties and rights to fight discrimination, emphasizing on our tribal differences to justify Federalism would create unnecessary alienation that would result into discrimination and violence.

While discussing Federalism as a system we want to adapt, it is important to bear in minds common or collective citizenship and rights and that Federalism is just a governance system that does not withhold nor interfere with citizens rights to live where one choose in one’s country. And by definition, if the system of governance, in one nation, is divided between Federal [central] authority and the various constituents, namely states, provinces, etc.; then the system of governance is referred to as Federalism.

Indeed, the following definition of Federalism stated in the Principle of Democracy, April 2005 Update captures the essence of Federalism as a system of governance: “When diverse groups of free people — with different languages, religious faiths, or cultural norms — choose to live under an agreed constitutional framework, they expect a degree of local autonomy and equal economic and social opportunities. A federal system of government — power shared at the local, regional, and national levels — empowers elected officials who design and administer policies tailored to local and regional needs. They work in partnership with a national government and with each other to solve the many problems the nation faces,” (

One can strongly argue that the above definition doesn’t really capture our cultural, religious and even linguistic realities, but we are indeed diverse and free people who could adopt Federal system to govern ourselves. Anyhow, examples of federal states are the USA, Canada Australia, India, and Nigeria, just to mention a few federal systems that we could explore for better understanding.

In Canada, citizens have mobility rights defined in Constitution Act, 1982 chatter of rights and freedom that state:
(1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
(3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to (a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence; and (b) any laws providing for reasonable residency requirements as a qualification for the receipt of publicly provided social services (

All Federal states in this world have similar mobility rights and freedom of their citizens. Where I reside in Alberta, as a citizen of Canadian an Albertan, Federal laws will not limit my rights if I move from Alberta to Toronto or British Columbia to live there as a Citizen.

I will live and work anywhere in Canada that I call home. If I or my child has political ambition, he/she could become a Member of Parliament, Mayor or a premier of any province they called home, a Prime minster of Canada if he/she has what it takes to be a leader. Federal systems in the USA, Australia, you name them, function the same or similarly when it come to the rights of citizens.

However, in our case, some advocates of South Sudan Federalism appear to suggest a different kind of Federal system that doesn’t conform with any federal system in the world. Some of us think that if you are, for example, from Warrap State you have no right to call Yambo your home to stay, and that you would never become a governor Warrap or a mayor of Kwacjok City, Warrap State even if you were born in Kwacjok but your parents originated from Juba despite having been born in Warrap and having a political ambition to serve people of Warrap.

Whereas, some of us have totalitarian’s tendency to dominate or control others socially, economically, and politically by wanting to control wealth and politics of the country by denying Federal or any democratic system that DEVOLUTIONIZES governance system in the country.

Clearly, our problems with Federalism seems to be a failure to perceive recognition of mobility rights and freedom of our citizens in one united South Sudan, and lust of political domination by certain groups.

As I know, every prominent political and non-political group-the opposition parties, the ruling government, and all regional elders of our three regions of South Sudan appear to have agreed on considering Federal system of government, however; the devil is in details and contents of their proposals.

But first let us take a look at type of governing system in South Sudan at this movement, because some argue that South Sudan is a Federal State when others views disagree with such postulation. After independent, in 2011, South Sudanese inherited Sudan’s system of governance.

Under the Sudanese authority, South Sudan was divided into current ten states. It followed that, during Sudan’s ruling regimes, governors of ten states in South Sudan were appointed by Central government authority. However, in 2005, after CPA peace agreement, the government of Southern Sudan was formed under ruling authority of the SPLM political party that took over governing authority of Southern Sudan region from the NCP regime of the Sudan.

Hence, in 2010 elections, in the Sudan, ten governors of Southern Sudan states and the President of Southern Sudan were for the first time elected democratically. With democratically elected President and elected governors of ten states, South Sudanese view their country as a democracy and some even considered South Sudan Federal State because of its ten states.

Considering South Sudan a democracy is plausible; yet debatable. But calling South Sudan Federal State is contradictory, because federal system is proposed in draft interim constitution that is yet to be passed.

Else, many feel that having ten states in the country with elected governors doesn’t amount to having a federal system since states have no defined powers granted to them and despite the fact that drafted interim constitution is not passed to legitimize Federal system of governance of the country.

Equally, in true Federalism, states must have independent functional government, judiciary, and parliament, economic system, and so forth that operate independently from central authority or federal government. In our case, as a comparison to functional Federal system elsewhere, our country is really not Federal.

Even so, if we consider having ten states and election of our governors as a proof, there are still incidences in which Central government interfered or meddled in individual state’s affairs. Elected governors were fired with executive Federal government decrees and impeachments conducted by state local authority as exercise of state’s democratic process and as state’s independent judiciary laws process, were reversed by Central government authority.

Likewise, appointment of state government ministers, members of parliament and other important positions were influenced if not decided by Central Government Executive’s authority which makes the hold process not democratic, and much to say that it makes State Authority dependent of Central government than self-regulating authority.

All in all, one could argue that South Sudan is more unilateral system than being a Federal system at present. This ushers us into debating current proposals presented by Dr. Riek and his Opposition group, the elders of Bahar el Gazal proposal and how South Sudanese in general think of federalism as a system of governance to be adapted.

When Dr. Riek Machar proposed Federalism as one of his quests in his current rebellion, it raised tremendous alarm and fear in the country. After failed December 15th coup attempt, Dr. Riek’s several attempts to militarily overrun Juba also failed, while his vicious pyrrhic’s victories in occupying most of greater Upper Nile state also lasted shortly.

It was also speculated that had Dr. Riek’s forces captured the whole of Upper Nile State including oil rich county of Renk, Jongeli and Unity State and militarily maintained the whole areas of greater Upper Nile regions, he would have been politically tempted to solicit international support and regional alliance with neighboring countries like the Sudan, Eritrea and even Ethiopia and then declare some kind of greater Upper Nile autonomy.

This was a possibility that was foiled when government troops managed to retake occupied states Capitals of greater Upper Nile region and forced Dr. Riek’s rebels out of strategic areas in greater Upper Nile to defend oil installation in Paloch and in Unity State.

Equally, the manners of which Dr. Riek rebels captured and ransacked towns did not accord him support or sympathy of the Greater Upper Nile people. The Greater Upper Nile is an ethnically/tribally diverse region and brutality of ethnic/tribal targeted revenge killings was horrifying enough to immediately discredit Dr. Riek’s rebellion and making it a movement with no clear objectives, but unbecoming revenge and destruction of both lives and properties.

Having failed to maintain his strongholds captured, Dr. Riek introduce his plan to help fight a long time gorillas’ warfare. This he would never be able to achieve with his predominately tribal based White Army militia alone, so he thought it wise to declare his quest for Federal system of governance to at least draw support, especially, from Equatoria region.

In the Greater Upper Nile Region, the mercilessness of Dr. Riek White Army’s target revenge that did not even spare lives of members of other tribes and ethnic groups of Greater Upper Nile Region plus lack of vision, hampered Dr. Riek’s needed unification of Greater Upper Nile Region to Support his appeal for Federalism. But in the Greater Equatoria, Dr. Riek’s call for federalism was revered.

Immediately, the Central Equatoria Governors Clement Wani and Western Equatoria Joseph Bakosoro plus many Equatorians intellectuals welcome Dr. Riek’s call for Federal South Sudan governance as a good gesture.

Paradoxically, governors of Greater Equatorian States and Equatorians intellectuals dismally failed to realize that Dr. Riek rebelled against the government of which Greater Equatoria is a part and parcel of the legitimate government and recognizing a call by a rebel leader fighting against the government was a mistake that would caused more instability of the ruling government and the country.

This prompted the President’s of South Sudan criticism and warning of Equatorians in general. President Kiir asked Equatorians not to join Dr. Riek’s tricks. Though the President did not oppose call for Federalism, he warned of division of South Sudan as a result.

Dr Riek’s Federalism, according to July 17, 2014 press release, proposed dividing South Sudan into 21 states in conformity with colonial districts ruling. In the Greater Upper Nile Region, Dr. Riek carved following states, (1) Fashoda State, (2) Renk State, (3) Sobat Sate, (4) Akobo State, (5) Pibor State, (6) Bor State, (7) And Bentiu (Unity State), (8) Nasir State. This proposal produced eight states in the Greater Upper Nile Region.

However, Dr.Riek released new state names recently as follow, Adar (North East Upper Nile State), Phou, Liech State. It is yet unclear whether these states names are replacement of some of the state name above or additional states to the list of states created in the Upper Nile Region.

Then in the Greater Equatoria, Dr. Riek carved total of six states namely, (1) Yambio State, (2) Maridi State, (3) Yei State, (4) Juba State, (5) Torit State, (6) And Kapoeta State. Whereas in Greater Bahr el Gazal Region he carved seven states, (1) Northern Bahr el Gazal, (2) Wau State, (3) Raga State, (4) Gogrial State, (5) Tonj State, (6) Rumbek State, (7) And Yirol State. Dr. Riek based his creation of states in accordance with Colonial District policy,

however; he did not recognized, Tumbura District in Equatoria, and Pangak District in the Upper Nile Region as states. Yet, skeptics could deduce that Dr. Riek carved himself a lion’s share by creating 8 states in his region of the Greater Upper Nile Region and less number of states in Greater Bahr el Gazal and Equatoria regions.

This is questionable because Bahr el Gazal and Equatoria are the most populated regions of South Sudan and would also desire creation of more states in them to meet the so called SPLM’S philosophy of taking town to the people or developmental demands.

Indeed, there are views that Dr. Riek’s call for Federal system and creation of more states in general is intended to balance the majority domination in this fashion that would give him comparative advantage in politics.

That is to say, out of ten current states of South Sudan, Dinkas are found in seven (7) states and creation of more non-Dinkas states in all three greater regions of South Sudan would overcome such domination that would help the cause of Dr. Riek and his political allies.

Indeed, some supporters of Dr. Riek’s Federal system proposal advocate representative type of democracy in which the President of the country would be elected by members of the house or senate, nominated by each state regardless of tribal majority in the state to elect the president, and not by straight public elections.

In the light of this, both political collusion and coalition of states would define ruling political dominance group. Not the least, Dr. Riek advocates restructuring of the military (the SPLA) based on states. Thus, creation of more states in his strongholds also gives him comparative military advantage.

In his recent Pangak’s convention, Dr. Riek verified his call for two armies in the country by forming his military high command and states led by appointed military governors, which is viewed with great concern and skepticism.

For majority in Greater Bahr el Gazal Region, there is more cynicism to be deduced from Dr. Reik’s call for Federalism that needs cautious approach in embracing his call for Federalism if unity of the country is considered paramount or a MUST maintain necessity by all stake holders. Therefore, Dr. Riek’s call for Federal system of governance was out-rightly rejected by many in Greater Bahr el Gazal Region.

Nonetheless, the elders of Greater Bahr el Gazal Region, in consultation with the elders of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria regions, came up with parallel proposal that supported Federal system according to colonial district governance. It is similar to Dr. Riek’s proposal but it divides South Sudan into 23 states.

After elders of Bahr el Gazal revealed their proposal, the Federal politics and tension that took hold of the country, at the time, quelled down at least. According to the elders of Bahr el Gazal, South Sudan would be divided into 23 states that composed of six (6) states in Greater Equatoria {Imatong Lomurnyang, Maridi, Gbudwe, Jubek and Yei States}; nine (9) states in Greater Bahr el Gazal {Wau, Aweil, Lol, Aweil East, Kiir, Gogorial, Tonj, Lakes, and Rumbek}; and eight (8) states in Greater Upper Nile {Liech, Rwueng, Eastern Nile, Western Nile, Jonglei, Biech, Latjoor, Boma states}.

As one could see, the Greater Bahr el Gazal region has a lion’s share of nine states compare to the rest of the regions. The skeptics have already criticized this as unfair rationing of states between three regions. However, and according to the Jieng elders, the proposal was widely debated by consulting committee from three regions, and as well the proposal has more flexibility given to changes to meet understanding of all regions.

So far, we have seen the proposal of Dr. Riek and his SPLM-IO, the proposal of three greater regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Gazal regarding Federal system of governance from their documented and released communiqué. To satisfy our curiosity, it is practical to present the position of the ruling government, the rest of the public and the stand of the SPLM party, as liberation party that brought us independence, in Federal system political saga proposed.

The opinion of the ruling government is drawn from speeches and press releases by government officials in response to the call for Federal system by the SPLM-IO. Whereas, shared opinions of some members of general public are drawn from individuals with whom I have discussed adopting Federal system of government for the country, while the SPLM Party’s stand on Federalism is a pure observation.

Therefore, I portray the position of the government of South Sudan on Federal system, as opposed to the SPLM-IO (rebellious opposition proposal), from perception and response of the President of the country. The President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir said that he has no objection in adopting Federal system in the country, but he would let South Sudanese public decide, in the referendum, on the issue.

This statement is fair enough and gives us clue to government intention in dealing with Federal system of governance proposed. Based on the President’s response, I can speculate that the public is asked in this fashion, with no farther details, to anticipate referendum on this issue when the time comes.

With regard to the general opinion of various people from different regions of South Sudan that I have met and discussed the idea of Federalism for South Sudan, I have deduced divided opinion on implementation of Federal system in the country. Some think that the Republic of South Sudan is already a Federal country and also assert that having not stated word “federal” in the title of the country means nothing and doesn’t amount to the Republic of South Sudan not being Federal.

Indeed, this group of people suggest maintaining current state of affairs, but give more powers to states. In fact, people of South Sudan are divided based on regions and ethnicity on this issue: many people from Bahr el Gazal and Upper Nile, mainly Dinkas especially, do not want Federalism but prefer unilateral system with devolution of powers; while majority in Equatoria and many Nuers of Greater Upper Nile regions want Federal system of governance.

There is a great confusion and lack of knowledge of Federalism as a system of governance. It is of no surprise for South Sudanese, in general, to be confused on this issue, for since Sudan’s independence, South Sudanese have been ruled undemocratically and unilaterally by the Sudan and as well by current SPLM government. Hence, great majority of citizens do not mind about system of governance to say the least, however; the big surprise is the SPLM’S weird position in this issue.

The SPLM’s vision and constitution of 1998 stipulated decentralized democratic system of governance as a ruling system in the new Sudan. Startlingly, the ruling SPLM party since the CPA peace agreement was signed between the south and the north Sudan espoused Sudan’s unilateral system of governance and thrust aside “decentralization and devolution of power” proposed in the constitution as the New Sudan’s ideology system of governance. It is quite challenging though to understand why the SPLM failed to utilize its ideology to rule the country. Indeed, it is mind-boggling to see that none of the SPLM groups, including the government, emphasizes on the decentralization and devolution of power as a prepared SPLM’S system of the governance since they are custodians of the Dr. John Garang’s ideology; yet all camps professed being the SPLM by history and soul. Surprisingly, the spilt within the SPLM and current conflict was caused by the accusation that the President of the Republic, General, Salva Kiir Mayardit and his group has deviated from New Sudan ideology, when the accusers (the SPLM-IO) themselves now called for Federal system that is inconsistent to Dr. Garang’s decentralization and devolution of power system of government for the new Sudan.
The SPLM’S conflict and its senseless perpetual Civil War have caused great damage to our social and political fabric. It is therefore important to highlight that the conflict was created by the SPLM power struggle between the President, General Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former Vis President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and later joined by Secretary General of the SPLM Party, Mr. Pagan Amum Ukech. Subsequently, the coalition of fired Vice President, fired ministers, fired General Secretary and Dr. John Garang family who backed fired Garang’s Boys, formed against the President. The President responded by firing the whole of his cabinet plus general secretary of the party.
As the result, the SPLM coalition of fired oppositions held political rally in Juba on December 14 in which they released their detailed grievances as in following: (1) The anti-Garang elements inside and outside the SPLM encircled comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit’s leadership of the SPLM and the Government of Southern Sudan [2005-2007]……….. (2) The shift in decision making process from SPLM national organs to regional and ethnic lobbies around the SPLM chairman when it came to appointments to positions in government; that membership of the SPLM and one’s participation in the revolutionary struggle became irrelevant……….. (3) The efforts to transform the SPLM from a liberation movement into a mass based political party have totally been frustrated by the Chairman. General Salva ignored the grassroots views and demands garnered between July and August 2012 for the SPLM re-organization. (4) There is no formal communication between the party organs at the national level and those in the States, County, Payam and Boma levels. The Government drives the SPLM rather than the other way round, (
If one compares the SPLM-IO grievances on December 14th Juba rally with Dr. Riek’s speech in Pangak SPLM-IO Conference, one would find lots of contradictions in the causes of the conflict and the SPLM-IO demanded solutions to address the “root causes of the conflict. For example, the SPLM-IO demands formation of two armies in the country, establishment federalism system, restructuring of parliament, judiciary, just to mention a few that do not really conform to initial causes of the conflict. I have given the background of the conflict, stated above, to point out that the government offers and SPLM-IO positions and claims are unsteady and peace talks in Addis Ababa are not geared toward addressing the root cause of the conflict as a result. This prompts many questions in the minds of many South Sudanese, questioning the seriousness; the sincerity and political moral consciousness of our political leaders, now locked in bitter fight for power, in bring peace in to the country by first reconciling their differences and then address system of governance differently and constitutionally.
Since all of them, leaders, claimed being the SPLM gurus that cherish the New Sudan ideology, why would a democratic system of governance like the one promised in their SPLM’s constitution in which system of governance, military duties, parliamentary duties, citizens’ rights and participation strongly stipulated and encouraged, unacceptable to them as a solution! Are they really oblige to devise system of governance, restructuring of government, the Army, the Judiciary, etc in this peace talks rather than stopping bloody war and later use democracy and elected parliament to address reform?
The real problem is in the SPLM party, and so is the solution in the SPLM vision and constitution! It will be nice of all the SPLM leaders if they just stop war mongering and flip-flop and get their acts together by reconciling their ranks and share their government? This way, many lives will be spared from senseless war. The public is well aware that all the SPLM leaders, now fighting, were in the government and followed no rules, constitution, promises, etc. Does it matters that old rules discard and new written to be followed by the same people? It is illogic! I read an article in global witness entitled, “Blueprint for Prosperity-How South Sudan’s New Laws Hold the Key to a transparent and Accountable Oil sector” November 2012 issue that stated the “New Laws” if followed would address corruption and so forth. This suggests that are already New Laws in place that can address problems, but they are hardly followed. Anyhow, in this conflict, people were targeted based on their ethnicity particularly in the greater Upper Nile Region where it is hard to delineate or carve tribal state without including other tribe in the same state. Here, the question is: what is the significance of using Federal system to address current conflict? Is it to address tribal domination or racial discrimination or both and on what level-State or Federal level? Since proposed states carved minorities in some of the states in which they were ethnically targeted in this conflict, how would Federal system proposed address racial and tribal violence in this faction? Likewise, since proposals also recommend creation of tribal states, how would this address the necessity of our needed unity in the country? In view of the above questions, the following recommendations would help pave our way to achieve a lasting peace and unity in our country:
• Cease hostility. Commit to peace talks to end the war by agreement. Accept power sharing. Reconcile leadership differences to ease transformation of the SPLM party. Resettled displaced and immediately stage reconciliation and healing processes.
• Adopts the SPLM decentralization and devolution of power systems that distribute powers up to the Boma level or start implementing Federal system by giving more powers to current 10 states while developing towns, laws and people to meet future demands and creation of more states.
• Establish democratic governance first by building independent institutions like judiciary and parliament at both Central and state level to safeguard democracy and rule of law.
• Gradually Limit Central powers and authority over states by allowing states to develop their autonomous local governance independent of central government and by identify where central government and state government can jointly work and where they can independently work to ease devolution of powers and to avoid frictions.
• Elect credible National Assemblies, at both level of state and Federal, as an institutions capable of writing and overseeing laws of the land to independently and efficiently address problems facing the country.
• Address corruption, tribalism and racial divide by outlawing them and establish institutions of law and laws to fight and punish discrimination and violence cause by tribalism, and as well educate public about importance of unity and dangers of tribalism and racial hatred.
• Educate public about democracy and objectives of federalism or decentralized system of governance by democratically encouraging citizens’ participation and awareness in their governance.
• Demarcate state boundaries and address cattle seasonal migration, stealing and raiding by establishing both Federal and state police forces and security posts to address cattle raiding, thief and migrating problems.
• Democratically transform the SPLM as a ruling party to address devolution of powers democratically and creditably.
• Separate the SPLA/M by developing them as independent institutions.
• Develop the SPLA as an independent national military institution free of political affiliation that is accountable to all the parties in the country and capable of carrying its military duties without political, tribal, and regional inclination or influence.
• Clearly spell out citizens mobility rights and educate states, counties, Payams, and Boma government authority about mobility rights of the citizens to move freely, settle freely, do business freely and work anywhere in the county without discrimination or harassment.
• Initiate targeted development to address unnecessary migration from Greater Bahr el Gazal and Greater Upper Nile Region to Equatoria by developing Malakal town, Wau town, Rumbek, Unity State, Aweil, Kwacjok, Nasir, etc., and then construct main transport roads that connect all three regions ( Equatorial, Bahr el Gazal, and Upper Nile) from the Capital city Juba to Rumbek, Wau, Ragj, Aweil, Kwacjok, Turalei, Abei, Unity State, and from Juba to Jongeli, Akobo, Malakal and Renk and Nasir, etc, so that availability of goods and basic services reach all regions.
• Encouraging South Sudanese Diasporas communities to denounce tribalism promote unity by form one uniting South Sudanese community in their localities.
• Encouraging SPLM chapters and non-SPLM chapters in the Diasporas to encourage unity and denounce tribalism.
• Solicit Diasporas expertises by encouraging them to bring back home their diverse knowledge in business, education, skills, ideas, etc to help in addressing development and as well help in promoting living in multicultural society.
• Encourage South Sudanese at home to embrace multiculturalism by culturally intermingle through learning one another languages and cultures, through intermarriages, through visitation, work or live or school in each other’s states to know themselves well.
• Establish media (radio and TV station) in State, Counties, Payams, and Bomas to help in promoting peace and unity and fighting tribalism. Indeed, establishing a broad based media would bring government’s important messages to the locals.
• Grant civil liberties like freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and opinion, etc
• Grant Medias (press, radio, television, etc.) rights and freedom to help in fighting tribalism and corruption and help in promoting nationalism and above all, help in informing and educating the public of all the laws, rights, duties, and responsibilities of the citizens including promotion of peace, reconciliation and coexistence as one people.
In summation, what is hurting the country right is insecurity and civil war. We should, as people, think of doing the right think first. Stop the War. Reconcile our people to jointly work in unity to devise a system of governance that would adequately address our needs and problems: whether be it development, coexistence, political, economic, racism or tribalism, lack of democracy, marginalization, etc in clear minds. We cannot come up with a viable system of governance in a situation where insecurity rules, where lack of democracy and freedom of expression is absence. Indeed, there is no a successful federal system or a successful decentralized system of governance without democracy in which citizens democratically, politically, and economically participate in the affairs of their country. Currently, South Sudan is almost one party state though there is a recognized official opposition party, the SPLM-DC. The SPLM controls National Assembly, 93 %. The SPLM controls National Army, (the SPLA), which is subordinated to the SPLM ruling as specified in the SPLM constitution. The ruling government should realize that successful nations are built through participations and contributions of all citizens in various walks of lives. That is to say that the government has to recognize that oppositions parties in the country also contribute to nation building in constructively criticizing government shortcomings and in participating devising laws in the country; that civil society contribute to nation building in making sure that citizens’ rights are granted, respected and protected by the government; that every citizen’s views count in building the country; and mostly importantly recognizing that we do not have to become one party members to know what is good for the country or love our country. Secondly, the SPLM-IO should know that our people do not deserve this war considering what they went through during liberation struggle. To be sincere, people of South Sudan suffered war atrocities for nearly 50 years; they do not desire nor deserve reform through the barrel of the gun. This particular war perpetuated by the SPLM-IO brought much hurt to us as people of common destiny and should immediately stop! Let us use dialogue not war to agree on issues that matter to us as a nation.

Morris Kuol Yoll is a concerned south Sudanese Canadian residing in Alberta-Canada. He could be reached at or 403 228-3290. Preferably, Morris welcomes your response via email. Thanks in advance.


  1. Majongdit says:

    I want to tick “liked”. Thanks for being ink up these important truths

  2. Morris K. Yoll says:

    It is said that know the truth & the truth will set you free. In our country, people loathe the truth and therefore we are in bondage of confusion and war with no ending. Our Problem is the SPLM leaders and Solution is within the SPLM party and its constitution. If they accept themselves, share their government and obey their constitution to settle leadership issues, then we are fine. If they refuse themselves, then we are in war forever. Anyhow, thanks for comments.

  3. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Morris,
    “Our problem is the SPLM leaders and solution is within the SPLM party and it’s constitution’,really?You force me to believe that you are either SPLM member who have chosen to speak without being sincere or you are simply a disconnected fellow who have no single clue as what SPLM members represent as evil people.

    But out of heartfelt sense of fellowship,how I wish to tell you to grow up quickly to never trust the SPLM members!
    After the SPLM-IO n the G11 got flashed out of Juba,there is no single sense of good will to change the sad order of things for better.It seems it’s good news that the SPLA-IO n the G11 should stay out of RSS politics forever.AS for those inside RSS politics,they are eating themselves up alive fighting over the maigre state economic means without mercy.I encourage you to come to Juba to witness how things work.Come with charity medicines for the poor n you will be surprised to find yoursef being asked to pay some body something to allow you in.After that you will find forces hijacking the medicines to either sell them latter or give them to their relatives n friends.If you have economic project,like farming a huge plot of land,they will propose a parternership with you up to 75% in their favor without spending one single pound on the project.If you refuse,you will be forced to go to hell with you project.

    It’s the relatives of SPLM members that have the right to be employed in good position in RSS.Ofcourse without qualifications.Scholarships n trainings of any kind abroad are for them.Government projects like building roads n schools are negotiated from inside.The invoices are over exaggerated compromising the quality.The excessive huge extra money to be made is divided after among the involved SPLM members n collaborators.Those roads n schools of poor quality would be distened to collapse so quickly n to be rebuilt again in the same manner in the future.This is exactly how the SPLM members are running RSS.They are well off now but still hungry for more with the country n society sinking deeper n deeper.They send their childern n relatives for education n medical treatments abroad with that money.The SPLM-IO n the G11 will govern in the same way if they ever take over from SPLM-Juba.That is exactly the reason they are fighting for to achieve.Also this manner of misrule will never change for better even if the three SPLM factions ever unit under SPLM constitution to govern togather.We are in deep shit n only God knows how we will come out from it!!!

  4. Morris K. Yoll says:

    Dear false Millionaire,
    First thanks for your response to this article. However, if you can hide behind false names, then you are simply dishonest and cannot be taken seriously because you have no true identity to stand by your words. I stand by what I say and write–right or wrong. On top of it, I have names and face to prove myself and what I said. Unlike me, you are faceless and you shoot and kill in the dark and walk upright in broad day light shamelessly and unrecognized. If truth is to be asked or told, then who is really insincere or disconnect me or False Millionaire?
    In short, I response to you, to simply tell you that you did not understand the message in my article or you did not simply finish reading it to the end, else you wouldn’t have responded the way you did. I wrote and quote, “The real problem is in the SPLM party, and so is the solution in the SPLM vision and constitution! It will be nice of all the SPLM leaders if they just stop war mongering and flip-flop and get their acts together by reconciling their ranks and share their government? This way, many lives will be spared from senseless war…”
    How, am I wrong in projecting that it was the SPLM power struggle that started this war? Besides, since all three groups: the SPLM Government, the SPL-IO, and SPLM detainees are claiming to be the true SPLM, is it wrong to ask them, then, to reconcile their rank and stop the war?
    You and I know that the public didn’t declare this war on the SPLM ruling elites; the SPLM leaders fought themselves in search of power. For me, it is the SPLM’S power struggle created war. And it is the same SPLM leadership that will find solution to it. Clearly, you misunderstood my article, and as well, misread something in your mind into the article.
    For this reason, I ask you to reread my article again. Since it is a long article, I caution you to just take your time. Print it out and read it with understanding; and you’ll figure out my reasons of having written it.
    Regarding your asking me to come to Juba and witness what is going on there; I say to you that my article wasn’t about corruption or about many things you narrated here. Frankly, it is obvious that you did not read the article with comprehension.
    All in all, please know that I came back from Juba 3 + months ago. I also visited South Sudan in 2011. To my knowledge, corruption wise, billions of dollars were stolen when the SPLM-IO and Detainees were in power.
    Yet my concern at this time is not about corruption, but about war that is killing our people; it has to be stopped. I hope you got it!

  5. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Morris,
    I thought the phrase I quoted from your comments to Majongdit was quite contextual to my comments to you therefore considering the general content of your article to give more bearing was no longer necessary.

    But it’s still all thesame.If your hope is to see the war coming to an end along with the destruction,death n suffering of the innocent people,then I am not in disagreement with you.You see my most dear fellow brother,I encourage you to cool down n be able to handle debates in the context of best judgement possible.If the three SPLM factions agree to unit as you suggest n then come to lead our country n the masses to peace n prosperity,I will be among happiest citizens.But this is only a wishful thinking.I don’t believe it.We know better.Time will tell.The road of misery n suffering will be far longer than the one of peace n prosperity.That is simply becouse we know too well that the leaders of the three factions are more inclined to personal interests meaning sterile power,ill gotten fortunes n free good life than the universal principles of good care for the country n society.These are the basic causes of this war.The war may never stop if none of the three factions has scored a clear military victory over the other two.But I join you still in the hope for a miracle that will stop it!!!

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