June 3, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese should be allowed to decide on how they want to be governed and federalism should not be imposed onto them, president Salva Kiir said Monday.
- South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, addresses the media in Juba on 2 May 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Paul Banks)
"The issue of federalism that is seems used by Riek Machar on pretext that he wants to divide the internal front is not really viable at all because federalism has been the demand of people of South Sudan for a long time even before the independence of Sudan,” Kiir said while opening the National Legislative Assembly.
He observed that a federalism system was what southern Sudan demanded for from north Sudan during the Juba conference, held in 1947.
"South Sudanese politicians also asked for federalism in 1955 in Torit and 1963 during a Khartoum meeting", said the South Sudanese leader.
“It was not Riek Machar who tabled it. It is the people of South Sudan who should decide sort of governance that they want. It is not individual. I cannot do it by decree as the president,” he added.
It was the first time president Kiir was publicly addressing the the issue of federalism put forward by his former deputy-turned rebel leader Machar.
Last month, however, the country’s vice-president, James Wani Igga openly opposed the federalism proposal, cautioning his fellow Equatorians against buying the concept.
“Many Equatorians saw that this idea of Riek on federation will rescue them. Equatorians, no, Riek is a liar. So please the few of us who think they must join Riek in order to get federation, please you are on the wrong road”, Igga said at a conference of politicians and intellectuals from the greater Equatoria regions.
He accused the country’s ex-vice president of allegedly stealing from the Equatorians the idea of federalism, which was proposed at a similar conference in Juba last year.
“This federation here is not the creation of Riek, we all know that Riek actually stole this renewed call for federalism in this hall here – Nyakuron – during a Equatorian consultative conference like this, because he knew the resolutions of it then he said yes, I am also for federation,” he further added.
The framers of South Sudan’s 2011 transitional constitution avoided mention of federalism and instead opted for a nominally ‘decentralized system’.
However, the rebels under Machar’s leadership have demanded restructuring of the country’s states on the basis of a new peace agreement and a federal constitution in order to end the current five-month old crisis in the world’s youngest country.