South Sudan

S. Sudan: Demand for Federal System Gains Momentum


no rx geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>They argue the system of government would enable equitable distribution of resources and extension of basic services to the remotest parts of the war-torn country.

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salve geneva;”>“We, the Unity State Students Association in Universities and higher Institute in the Arab Republic of Egypt declare our empathy and support to federal system of governance in the youngest nation,” said the organisation’s leader, Deng Machar Tot.

He argued that the “idea of federalism that has been proposed by the SPLM/A – in opposition is the best solution to the ongoing crises in the Republic of South Sudan and at the same time it is an infinite solution to the marginalization of the people of South Sudan that has been suffering from dictatorial regime of Salva Kiir which fail to deliver basic services and instead encourages tribalism, nepotism and state destruction.”

President Kiir says South Sudanese would have to decide whether federalism is the best way of running their affairs.

Since 1955 South Sudan has always been organized into Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazel and Equatoria.

These three territories are now further divided and reorganized into 10 states. These ten states or more can be bound into a larger, non-centralized superior state, while allowing them to maintain their political identities.

According to a scholar, Sindani Sebit, the essence of the states maintaining their political identity is crucial in the case of South Sudan, so that they can be able to forge their developmental agenda according to their priorities and resources available to each.

“Secondly, the ten states in South Sudan currently have their own political beliefs and perceptions that can be nurtured and propagated within the boundaries of the state, while the Federal Government concentrates on crucial matters that face the larger union,” says Sebit.

However, warns Sebit, successful federal systems must have common characteristics and principles.

These include constitution or the basic law stipulating the distribution of powers; diffusion of power among the constituent elements, which should be substantially self-sustaining; and territorial divisions to ensure neutrality and equality in the representation of various groups and interests.

“Successful federal systems should also have a sense of common nationality and direct lines of communication between the citizens and all governments that serve them. As it stands now, South Sudan has no common characteristics and principles. What exists now in South Sudan is degraded into Dinka, Nuer and the common “tribe” in Equatoria called Equatorians,” argues the scholar in an article to Chimpreports.

“These are tribal characteristics that are not bound by common principles, but by tribal interests to rule and plunder the resources of the country. Lack of common principles has precipitated corruption, land grabbing, and lack of respect for individual property, as some of these actions are not considered as crimes by some of the communities in South Sudan.”


According to Deng Tot, due to the presence of different ethnic groups, “it will be easier to practice federal system of governance to manage the affairs of the states. Federalism will eradicate tribalism in South Sudan because the states will build bilateral relations among themselves in order to exchange their resources.”

He further points out that “Federal System will bring development to South Sudan due to the future competition between the governors on whose state to be on the top rank. The federal system will give the state freedom to exercise its rights and solve their internal affairs without the intervention of central government.”


Nevertheless, Sebit argues that as a system, federalism has its own drawback, though these may however not outweigh the significance and numerous benefits the system renders to the people.

Sebit observes that it may allow special interest groups to protect their privileges.

“Some states may use state rights and laws to avoid federal regulations that guarantee civil rights such as free movement and settlement of people in the country. However, in such situations the federal law should supersede the state laws.

It may frustrate national policy because of differences in priority setting. However, this has been taken care of by the revenue allocation commission which ensures that resources are effectively distributed and utilized according to the overall priority in the country.”

It is also understood that Federal System of government increases the cost of governance generally and can also cause uneven distribution of these costs as some states may spend more than twice as much per capita as other states on certain priorities.


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