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By Tor Madira Machier - 19 Nov 2017

South Sudan: Too late to return to the defunct 10 states!

President Salva Kiir Mayaradiit, on October 2nd 2015, based on an executive order known as the “Establishment Order” No 36/2015 AD, decided to break into pieces South Sudan from 10 to 28 states. The Order has, for the most part, been a subject of controversy between its supporters and its critics. In January 2017, President Salva Kiir restructured the country once more and created seven additional states bringing the total number of states in the country to 32 including the disputed region of Abyei.

The creation of more states, however, has been followed by international condemnation with the Western Powers threatening sanctions and warning of more violence over border disputes. However, Salva turned deaf hears to the international community’s calls to nullify the newly created states and decided to proceed and appoint governors as well as State Legislative Assemblies for the states he recently created. Beside the international condemnations, the creation of the states resulted into tribal clashes between supporters and opponents especially in the states of Bahr Al-Ghazal and let to more rebellions throughout the country.

The country’s main armed opposition under Riek Machar has been demanding for extensions of South Sudan states and the application of the Federal system of governance as the governing system in South Sudan. However, during the two years of negotiations, President Salva Kiir has been more and more critic and behaved bitterly towards the opposition idea of creating more states and had vowed to reject any deal that would seek to divide South Sudan into more states without consulting the people of South Sudan. Kiir’s rejection of more states creation which the opposition referred to as “intransigence” and the SPLM-IO’s insistence to create more states dragged on the country’s civil war, which would have been ended in early 2014, for two years.

However, there is no any concrete reason for President Salva Kiir to create more states when he has previously been the very person who has been decisively resisting the call to create more states because his rejection of more states creation prolonged the war and resulted into death of thousands more citizens both from the military and the civil population. Nevertheless, and although Kiir’s creation of more states might be a subject of dispute between South Sudanese tribes in the future even after the end of the war, it is too late for now for both the citizens and the government of South Sudan to return to 10 states because the 32 states, although there are many thing wrong to do with them, have already take cause but also risky to proceed with them. Both the return to 10 states and proceeding with the current 32 states will cause war in the near future even between the fellow Dinka members.

Kiir’s natives in the greater Bahr Al-Ghazal region, and the Jieng Council of Elders which has been a driving force for Salva Kiir’s government will not accept the return to 10 states and this will also place the country into risk of collapse and disintegration and will yet again subject the citizens to uncalled for suffering. So, even if the government of president Salva Kiir agreed and accepted to work with the armed rebels of the SPLM-IO in implementing the 2015 peace agreement which was signed by the two parties on the basis of the 10 states, it will not be a wise decision to implement it on the basis of 10 states. This is because the leaders of the current 32 states need to be dismissed upon dissolution of these states, but they will not accept to be dismissed from their positions without giving them new assignments. On the other hand, the government will not be able to accommodate them all as there is a limited number of seats which would only need to be shared between the government and its peace partner the SPLM-IO in case South Sudan returns to 10 states.

So in my own personal point of view, the return to 10 states will not be the solution for the civil war as it will also be the case in proceeding with the 32 states. The government need to first discuss with its peace partner - the SPLM (IO) - in case they agree to work to gather again, how they could find a way to solve this issue but should include this time the public opinion and avoid repeating the very same mistakes of creating 28, 21 or 32 states without asking the will of the over 12 million South Sudanese. 

Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese columnist living in Cairo Egypt, he can be reached at and also via 

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.