By Ijoo Bosco
June 15, 2014 (TORIT) - The governor of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state has backed calls for federalism, saying it was the system of governance demanded for by Equatorians at the time the new nation attained its independence from Sudan in 2011.
- Eastern Equatoria state governor Louis Lobong Lojore speaking at a ceremony in the capital Torit, May 8, 2014 (ST)
Speaking for first time on the matter, Louise Lobong said calls for federalism were not initiated by his Greater Equatoria counterparts, but rather a system demanded by citizens in these three regions.
"We [governors] have been saying this even to the president and everybody that Equatorians want federalism and not we as governors because we are elected leaders," Lobong told reporters in the capital, Torit.
"We are representing them. We tell out what the people are saying and we will continue advocating for it”, he added.
Governor Lobong hinted that a nationwide campaign in support of federalism would soon be held to convince the population to embrace a federal system of governance in the young nation.
He wondered why the former vice-president-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar was now at the forefront of advocating for federalism, yet he was among the lawmakers who allegedly voted against it when the matter was tabled before the national assembly.
“It could be a way of buying time and just deceiving people, but good if they accept it. We will table it and put in the constitution. Neither Machar nor Kiir can decree this issue and put in to the constitution", said Lobong.
"It is a process and it is the people to accept it and adapt it", stressed the governor.
He however challenged South Sudanese stakeholders spreading the federalism idea to first enlighten citizens on the positive and negative implications of this governance system.
"There is need to educate the nation about the challenges related to adapting a new system of governance though many people across South Sudan talk of federalism as a kind of government that will help settle the problem of the young nation", he stressed.
The governor cautioned members of the SPLM-in-Opposition not to capitalise on the ongoing talks in Addis Ababa as a platform to push for federalism in South Sudan.
Central Equatoria state governor, Clement Wani Konga initially made the call for federalism during the Greater Equatoria conference held in the capital, Juba. A similar statement was echoed by the Western Equatoria state governor, Joseph Bakosoro last week.
But while officially opening the country’s national assembly two weeks ago, president Kiir proposed that citizens be allowed to decide on what system of governance they wanted and that federalism should not be imposed onto them as demanded by the opposition.