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Juba opposes rebels’ appointments of state governors

MiCT The Niles
South Sudan criticises a move by the rebels, led by former Vice President Riek Machar, appointing state governors.
19.06.2015  |  Juba
SPLA-IO rebels posing for a picture in Nyal, Unity State, May 15, 2015.
SPLA-IO rebels posing for a picture in Nyal, Unity State, May 15, 2015.

Jonglei’s chief executive was appointed after Machar’s group decided earlier this year to divide South Sudan into 21 federal states instead of the current ten.

Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, says the their way of dividing the country is based on voting districts established under British colonial rule, which began in 1896 and ended in 1939.

Gatdet says Machar appointed the new Jonglei State Governor on May 30. The chairman appointed our new governor for Jonglei State. His name is Alier Alier Lueth,” Gatdet explains.

Gatdet says Machar’s rebel group, the SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO), has already appointed governors in several of the new states.

The chairman appointed our new governor for Jonglei State.”
James Gatdet Dak
We have already appointed many [governors] particularly for Greater Upper Nile State. We have appointed governors for Bieh State, for Phow State, for Pibor and also for Sobat State and we have appointed a governor for Northern Bahr el Ghazal State and also for Eastern Equatoria State. So we are in the process of making sure that all the 21 states have governors appointed,” he says.

The government in Juba criticises the appointment saying it was unilateral and the rebels had no right to make such decisions on behalf of the people of South Sudan.

President Salva Kiir’s Spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, says Machar has no right to make the appointments.

This is not the first time for the rebels to appoint governors peculiar to their position when in actual fact they are appointing governors in places they don’t even control,” Ateny says, adding this is not new we see it as negotiating position for the rebels”.

In an order Machar issued early this with the decision to create 21 states, Jonglei State was divided into four states called Bieh, Pibor, Phow and Jonglei.

Gatdet says the expanded number of states is part of the SPLM-IOs proposal to introduce a federal system of governance in South Sudan.

Federalism has been demanded for our people since 1947. We wish that the government would also agree to this, because it is not our creation, but has been a popular demand of our people,” Gatdet says.

We urge our people and all our citizens to support this new policy for creation of the 21 states. It is good for us [and] it is good for the development of the country, it is good for managing the diversity in our country,” he adds.

President Kiir has spoken out against federalism in the past, and the proposal to give more power to the states in South Sudan is said to be one of the issues that is being discussed at peace talks in Addis Ababa.

The prerogative of dividing South Sudan into more states lies with the people of South Sudan.”
Ateny Wek Ateny
Presidential Spokesman Ateny says it is not for the rebels to decide what system of governance South Sudan should have. The prerogative of dividing South Sudan into more states lies with the people of South Sudan. It is not a matter for any political group to try to impose,” he says.

The government of South Sudan is the legitimate government that is implementing the Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan,” Ateny explains. The government adopted a decentralised system of governance and any changes would require the people of South Sudan to decide on it”.

Last year, South Sudanese media practitioners wrote a letter to Information Minister Michael Makuei, saying that individuals claiming to work for the security services had ordered editors not to publish any articles on the federalism debate.

At the time, Ateny denied that the government had banned public debate about federalism. Ateny says President Kiir’s priority is to restore peace in South Sudan, not to engage in a debate about what system of governance the country should have.