BY: Chol Deng Yol, South Sudan, NOV/24/2015, SSN;
South Sudan, the world’s newest independent state, remains one of the most troubled country facing both external and internal threats from aggrieved neighboring country (Sudan) and internal power struggling among the SPLM Politicians.
The SPLM’s domineering political party, after secession from Khartoum, had dramatically robbed the people of their hard-won independence and returned the country back to civil war, pitting the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups against one another.
The South Sudanese civil war that started as a political dispute has been interpreted through the lens of ethnic bitterness, fueled by tribal animosities that remained unresolved since the inception of SPLM/A in 1983.
Just but to mention a few, the war has immensely claimed lives and destroyed peoples’ sources of livelihood.
It has led to the proliferation of small arms and ammunitions in civilian communities deepening tribal animosity, creating perceptions of insecurity besides breaking down of cultural values.
It has displaced thousands of people and destroyed schools and hospitals. The economy has indicatively shrunken.
As a redress to South Sudanese atrocities, the IGAD Plus has helped the warring parties to sign a compromised Peace Agreement which is yet to be implemented.
Apparently, the scars carried by Kiir and Machar’s survivors, inside and outside the country, are still raw and the recently signed ‘Compromised Peace Agreement’ that prompted return to status-quo of the former foes does nothing to free SPLM and SPLM-IO from the guilt of killing their own citizens.
With the loss nationhood innocence, Riek and Kiir must come to terms with their new ethnic federalism ideologies, otherwise trying to move forward will have deadly consequences.
Dr. Riek in his “SPLM-in-opposition’ Movement Manifesto was the first leader to split the country into 21 ethnic federal states only to be pebbly surprised by President Kiir in his unilateral decision that ordered the creation of 28 ethnic federal States.
The decisions taken by both Machar and President Kiir do not meet people‘s aspirations at all as they both have elements of tribal supremacy over power and resources.
Whether with 21 or 28 states, South Sudan is not ready for it at the movement, period!
South Sudanese are resilient people who need peace and prosperity, not federal states.
Regardless of the legality of creation of more states, the question that hangs in the mind of every South Sudanese is that, if we could not developed the already existing 10 states of the republic of South Sudan, how are we going to develop 21 or 28 ethic states given the rifts and tribal animosities caused by this senseless war?
In countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria, ethnic federation is applied in the context and strategy of resolving ethnic conflict on a permanent basis.
However in South Sudan, it is likely to exacerbate the already complicated unresolved political, economic and social issues.
One of the major peculiarities of the proposed federalism in South Sudan is how to designate the territorial location of an ethnic group given the history of internal seasonal migration and patterns of settlement, especially among the nomadic communities of Greater Upper Nile regions.
It will be very difficult for the federal government to demarcate ethnic territorial boundaries without experiencing multitudes of claims and counter claims from local tribes.
It will create another protracted war along ethnic lines.
In all the federal states inhabited by more than one ethnic community, there exist evidences that there will be problems of treating unequal ethnic groups equally.
In reality, tribes will be different in terms of territorial size, population and economic potentials which may complicate allocation of federal powers among various tribes.
Will federal seats be allotted on the proportion of population size or ethnic representation? It is very complicated to determine it.
Since the contested system of ethnic federalism in South Sudan is anchored on the very idea and principle of self-determination of the tribes, it will be likely that local communities at the borders, out of frustrations, may one day decide to secede which will ultimately result in disintegration of federal states.
In a nutshell, whether the decision to split the country into 21 or 28 ethnic federal states was based on former colonial districts or on popular demand model, the timing for adopting federalism in South Sudan is but just far from now.
It is high time we prioritize fixing things right by embracing peace and reconciliation.
We need to amend and restore our broken social fabrics without disintegrating into tribal webs that will further fan clannish wars.
We need to preserve our sovereignty and national pride in unity not in disunity.
As the English people put it that “a stitch in time saves nine,” in the interest of national pride and tranquility of our beloved motherland, it is imperative that our leaders in the persons of President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar listen to the voices of reason and immediately back down from their personal egos and tribal interests.
They must both relinquish their models and making of ethnic federalism ideology in South Sudan.
By Chol Deng Yol,