South Sudan to Review 28 States
South Sudan has announced it will review its controversial 28 states system after meetings between the presidency and main opposition.
The leaders have confirmed a committee will be set up to determine the number of states that will divide South Sudan and where their borders will lie. Finding a solution to the 28 states issue is seen as a vital step in successfully establishing the country’s peace deal.
Committee to be set up
The committee that will discuss the 28 states is made up of 15 members, including four from Kiir’s SPLM party, three from Machar’s opposition and five from the international community.
William Ezekiel of the National Committee for Information said they will first decide on the number of states and then discuss the contentious issue of borders.
“After agreeing on the number of states, … a technical committee will be established to identify … borders between the states,” Ezekiel said. “They will work in consultation with the community-based groups. They will work also with chiefs [and] with relevant bodies of major interest to this.”
Kiir’s unilateral decree to divide South Sudan into 28 states caused a series of border disputes, which is believed to have contributed to unrest in the country. Redefining the borders yet again will be a tough task with the number of vested interests involved.
Confusion over committee’s role
Talks over the 28 states already look to be off to a rocky start following comments by Kirr’s press secretary. Ateny Wek Ateny told the press on Thursday claimed the committee will not be able to reduce the number of states.
“The committee can come up with a recommendation to increase the number of states but it’s impossible that it could be less than 28 states. Because nobody will accept that his state will be removed. Nobody will want that,” he said.
However, Machar’s own press secretary was quick to claim the number of states is very much up for contention. He also said the SPLM-IO opposition party will be pushing to reestablish a 10 party state, in accordance with the country’s peace deal.
By Aotearoa, based on the Establishment Order Number 36/2015 for the Creation of 28 States in the Decantralized Governance System in the Republic of South Sudan and map of South Sudan Countries published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of 16/07/2012 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46401411