S. Sudan new states’ move angers opposition, rebels

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan. His unilateral decision to create 28 states is threatening the recent Peace Agreement

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan. His unilateral decision to create 28 states is threatening the recent Peace Agreement

South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s controversial decree creating 18 more states along ethnic lines has infuriated rebels and the opposition.

President Kiir on Christmas Eve finally declared to the nation the creation of 28 new states replacing the current 10, a decision observers say might lead to the collapse of the August Peace Accord signed by the president and his rival, rebel leader Riek Machar to end the two year conflict.

“The decree is unconstitutional because it violates the signed peace agreement and because the parliament, not the president, has the power to change state borders,”Lam Akol, leader of the main opposition party, SPLM-Democratic Change said.

Sources say Rebel leader Riek Machar and other factions are contemplating completely against the president’s decision, and they first voiced their strong opposition two months ago when Kiir signaled he would re-demarcate the country’s internal borders.

“The fundamental objectives of the order states that; it will devolve power and resource closer to the people, gradually reduce size of national government, attracts experts to work at the state and counties level and promote social and economic development amongst the rural communities,” the President’s October reads in part.

The United States and South Sudan’s major development partners have joined the opposition in roundly condemning President Kiir contentious move.

“We recognise that the people of South Sudan have long been interested in the issues of federalism and decentralisation. However, we strongly urge President Kiir to defer action on this fundamental matter until the Transitional Government of National Unity is formed and a national constitutional dialogue can take place,” Troika states; US, UK and Norway said in a joint statement this October.

The conflict in South Sudan broke out in 2013 when President Kiir and his then Vice President Reik Machar fell out and the latter decided to take up arms and fight the government. The turmoil has claimed hundreds of lives and displaced over 2 million.

President Kiir’s decision comes after over 100 rebels had reported to Juba in line with the implementation of the August Peace Agreement.

Prior to the recent peace deal, Africa’s and the world’s newest nation had seen the signing of several accords between the government and the rebels only to breakdown weeks or days after being signed.