The creation of the problematic 32 states was a political move to counter the SPLM-IO’s suggestion of 21 states, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs has said.
In early 2015 during peace talks in Ethiopia, the SPLM-IO proposed 21 federal states, based on the old districts created by the British colonial administration.
The Opposition Leader, Dr. Riek Machar, had earlier issued an order establishing military commands based on the colonial districts.
The government strongly opposed the suggestion by the SPLM-IO to nullify the 10 States.
In August 2015, the parties signed the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan which acknowledged the 10 States.
In a surprise move in October 2015, Elia’s Boss President Salva Kiir issued a decree – creating 28 States, saying it was a popular demand.
However, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, who is also the Secretary for the National Pre-Transitional Commission admitted that the move was political.
“Twenty-one states were brought about by the IO. We countered the move with 28 states and later on 32 states,” Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro told diplomats in Juba.
He said it is time for the people of South Sudan to determine the number of States, not the politicians.
“This time round, the people of South Sudan must have a say as to what number of states they really want. This is our position, anyway.”
Kiir did say it was also meant to devolve power rather than centralizing the system of governance in Juba.
Kiir argued that more states would promote self-governance, self-reliance, and self-development across the country.
The move was, however, condemned as unconstitutional by political parties, civil society organizations and members of the international community.
It was also conflicting with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.
The SPLM-IO termed it as a unilateral decision and wondered why the government rejected its earlier proposal for 21 states based on colonial districts -which had clear boundaries.
President Kiir later increased the number of States by four.
But some communities believe tribal boundaries have been violated by the establishment of the 32 States.
There have been constant calls for the President to reverse the decree.
The revitalized peace agreement established the Transitional Boundaries Commission and the Independent Boundaries Commission to study, define and demarcate the tribal areas of South Sudan as they stood on 1 January 1956.
The government has since argued that it will not reverse the 32 States.
Last year, Kiir dared those calling for the withdrawal of the decree to go to the States and tell the communities to return to the previous 10 States.
He insisted that his actions resonate with the demand of the people to develop their localities through mobilization of local and state resources.
The creation of 32 states has caused conflict, with communities fighting over land ownership.
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