Draft deal with Cobra Faction to establish Jonglei sub-region
A draft agreement between the SSDM Cobra Faction led by David Yau Yau and the South Sudanese government would establish a ‘Greater Pibor’ region in South Sudan with special administrative status, if given final approval.
The deal involves only the Cobra Faction based in eastern Jonglei and the Kiir government based in southwestern Jonglei, and does not involve the main SPLM/A opposition faction also active in Jonglei State, in the state’s northern counties.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the newly established ‘Greater Pibor Administrative Area’ would be led by a chief administrator with status equivalent to that of a state governor.
Yau Yau, who led a rebellion in Jonglei until January 2014, had demanded that Jonglei State be split, with one side retaining the Dinka and Nuer territories and the other side the Anyuak, Murle, Kachipo and Jie territories.
Arrangements proposed in the draft agreement represent a compromise in keeping the Pibor area nominally part of Jonglei State while making concessions toward the effective autonomy of the region in relation to the state government.
The area would have its own provisional seal, flag and emblem. It would be sub-divided into six counties, and it would be supported by a Special Development Fund managed by the South Sudanese presidency.
Greater Pibor’s chief administrator would be nominated by the SSDM Cobra Faction and approved by the South Sudanese president, answerable directly to him and not to the Jonglei governor.
This arrangement effectively would remove Pibor from the authority of the Jonglei State Government. In a clause on ‘inter-governmental relationship’ (13), the draft deal states, “institutional relationships with other entities or states… shall be maintained through the Presidency.”
Another clause refers to the Greater Pibor Administrative Area as a structure “annexed under the Presidency” until the final determination of the region’s status under the yet to be made permanent constitution.
The possibility is also left open for Greater Pibor to become a state, although no formal commitments are made in this regard.
“The proposed state creation by the SSDM/A Cobra faction in the lands of Greater Pibor shall be done within constitutional framework including the ongoing constitution making process of the Republic,” reads article 2.4 of the draft deal.
According to the church leader who brokered the deal, Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, there are still some “outstanding issues of disagreement,” in particular in the area of security arrangements.
“The right compromise must be found to ensure that both parties are comfortable with the issues of military integration, its timing and modalities. Given the larger conflict in South Sudan going on in Greater Upper Nile and elsewhere, and the closeness of the SSDM-A area to that conflict, it is an obvious concern,” the bishop stated in a press release Saturday.
Also, many terms of the proposed agreement would not take effect until after the South Sudanese national legislature passed a ‘Law of Greater Pibor Administrative Area’.
Negotiations between the Cobra Faction and the South Sudanese government have been taking piace in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the Saro-Maria Hotel. It is expected that the delegations are to leave to consult with their principals – Yau Yau and Salva Kiir – before returning for a third round of talks.
Photo: SSDM/A commander Boutros Khalid (right) and his deputy at negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia