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EU: 'Decree by South Sudan’s Kiir for more states violates peace deal'

October 6 - 2015 JUBA
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir addresses a news conference at the Presidential palace in Juba (Reuters)
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir addresses a news conference at the Presidential palace in Juba (Reuters)

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has ordered the division of the country’s ten constitutionally established states into 28 new ones. The EU Commission has criticised the presidential decree as a violation of the peace agreement and called on the government not to implement the order.

Read out by Kiir on national television on Friday evening, the new order will create new states and new state boundaries that largely separate the Nuer ethnic group from other ethnic groups, leaving most of them within ethnically homogeneous states.

A high-level statement from the European Union today slammed the so-called Establishment Order. “The announcement by President Salva Kiir of the presidential order to replace the 10 existing states with 28 new states goes against the spirit and the letter of the peace agreement signed by the Government of South Sudan on August 26,” reads the EU statement, which was issued by the spokesman of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, who is also deputy to the president of the EU Commission. EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides also signed onto the statement.

Mogherini and Stylianides pointed out that the peace deal stipulates that decisions on the structure of the government will be made during the permanent constitution-making process, “under the oversight of the Transitional Government of National Unity and in consultation with the people of South Sudan.

“The EU therefore urges the President and Government of South Sudan to refrain from proceeding on this fundamental matter,” they affirmed.

Peace agreement

The 26 August power-sharing peace deal was endorsed by both President Kiir and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) at the High-Level meeting chaired by the UN Secretary-General on 29 September in New York.

SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar, who is scheduled to fulfill the position of Kiir’s First Vice-President when a transitional government is created in late November, rejected the move in a press statement issued that was over the weekend. The two have been on opposing sides of a conflict that has killed thousands of people, displaced more than two million, and disrupted oil production, the source of most of the government’s revenue, since December 2013.

Kiir’s decree will affect the peace deal with the rebel group led by Riek Machar, because the deal gave the group the positions of governor in Unity and Upper Nile states. The division of the states to be given over to rebel governors suggests that Kiir may seek to keep his appointees in control of parts of those areas.

Ethnic enclaves

Although the decree by Kiir, who is a member of the Dinka tribe, does not refer specifically to ethnicities, it clearly groups together Nuer-inhabited areas into states of their own.

For example, the previously intermixed Unity State would be divided into Northern and Southern Liech states, covering the parts of Unity state inhabited by Nuers. The Dinka that live within Unity state’s current boundaries - in Pariang and Abiemnhom counties - would be split off into a new ‘Ruweng state’.

“This is an administrative order issued by the president, and an administrative order is not subject to approval.”

Article 161 of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution states: “the territory of South Sudan is composed of ten states”. It does not authorise the creation of new states or the elimination of constitutionally established states.

South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael Makuei, who appeared on state television on Friday after the President, said that the order will not need to be approved by the parliament to take into effect. He stressed that the decision will help to transform the government into a federal system.

In addition, the SPLM-IO in its press statement feared that the division of South Sudan into 28 states will bring about more community unrest over land ownership.

Fighting in Unity

The statement by the EU goes on also to condemn the resumption of hostilities in Unity State and call on the armed opposition to implement the security arrangements of the peace deal.

“The international community has consistently said that there will be consequences for those who obstruct the implementation of the peace agreement. The EU welcomes in that respect the African Union’s decision to publish the commission of inquiry’s report and to move ahead with the establishment of the hybrid court.”

(Source: Radio Tamazuj, VOA)


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