South Sudan Delays New States, Despite Constitution Amendment
South Sudan’s parliament has passed the constitutional amendment required to create a new state system in the country, but delayed President Kiir’s order to establish 28 states.
The amendment now gives President Kiir the power to create new states and nominate governors in South Sudan, but falls short of installing the 28 state system he had previously ordered.
South Sudan remains a 10 state country, for now
Article 162 in the constitution had fixed the number of states within South Sudan to ten, but the amendment means “the President may for the purpose of efficient discharge of functions of the government, divide the territory of the Republic of South Sudan into states and other areas in accordance with procedures prescribed by law or provisions of such law as may be enacted by the concerned House of Legislature.”
Article 165 has also been amended, which previously meant governors could only be elected into power. However, the change states that governors “may be nominated by the president” with consultation from residents from any given state in the interim period.
Criticism of Kiir’s growing powers
Opposition leader Riek Machar has unsurprisingly taken aim at President Kiir, claiming his original order to create 28 states and the support of legislators were in violation of a peace deal agreed in August.
The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan has also raised concerns over the growing powers President Kiir is being given in the war-torn country. A recent report criticised the president’s power to remove state officials – without any real process – and gaps in the judiciary system.
The president’s power to create new states in South Sudan has been defended by his government as a means to extend reach to more remote parts of the country. However, the ability to nominate governors for each new state created gives President Kiir even more control over who sits in his government.