July 14, 2014 (KAMPALA) – More than 150 students from Jonglei state’s Uror, Nyirol and Akobo counties conducted a meeting on 8 July in Uganda condemning claims that local youths have rejected calls for a federal system of governance.
The students were reacting to comments by the Jonglei State Youth Union in the capital, Bor, that it is not the right time to introduce federalism in South Sudan as the “level of development is still low in all the states”.
Chuol Tut Wuor, the chairman of the Lou Nuer Students Association in Kampala, was tasked with speaking on behalf of students from the Greater Akobo region at the meeting in Kampala.
He said students had been upset by the comments, accusing Bor youth of generalising views across the state.
“Obviously they (Bor youth) have to choose where they come from; to make things clear or to make their statement and know their position on federal government. If they don’t want the federal government they have to use their correct title or the counties where they come from. They should not use their interest to cover the interest of others,” said Wuor.
Juma Wechtuor, a member of the Lou Nuer Students Association, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that putting tribal interests above the interests of the nation as a whole was behind the current turmoil in the country.
He believes that federalism should be given room to develop, saying it will help make the country more progressive.
“Some people because they have not understand the word federalism, so they take it in their own way that if we make federalism there will be tribalism,” he said.
“But it doesn’t make sense, so what we are aiming on is the future or what will come next to the entire generation which is coming”, added the student member.
Pal Wuol, the student secretary of legal and constitutional affairs, says article 32 in South Sudan’s transitional constitution guarantees the rights of citizens to have a free and open debate on a federal system of governance.
Wuol says students in Uganda from Greater Akobo have declared their support for federalism in the country, accusing youths from Bor South youths of attempting to misguide the media on public opinion.
“We all agree that we declared our intention. We condemned what has been said by Bor youths calling themselves Jonglei, while they are not all Jonglei youths,” said Wuol.
The Akobo students say federalism is the best tool to lead the country towards true democracy.
Students argued that article 36 of South Sudan’s transitional constitution provides that political objectives shall be promoted through political pluralism guided by the principle of decentralisation and devolution of powers to the South Sudanese people.
There has been growing support across South Sudan for federalism since rebel leader Riek Machar, who has led an armed struggle against the government since mid-December last year, called for it to be implemented, saying it would improve governance and enhance cultural diversity.
In an interview with Sudan Tribune last week, Machar cited the success of Switzerland, which is governed by a federal system and home to four distinct nationalities.
President Salva Kiir, however, has rejected the calls, saying restoring peace and stability in the country should be given prioritised before considering any major changes to the country’s political system.
These sentiments were last week echoed by youth in Bor, who said the system would t negatively impact on states that do not have natural resources and are heavily dependent on crude oil.
“As South Sudanese, the state we are in now and the crisis we are in, we cannot think of federalism because we are faced by tribal issues,” said union chair Ayar Monyawch.