Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 2 November 2016

Proposal for a confederal system in South Sudan


By Wesley Bokati Natana Abraham

At independence on 9 July 2011, South Sudan was at war with at least seven armed groups. According to UN figures, the various conflicts affected nine of its ten states, with tens of thousands displaced. Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) also operates in a wide area that includes South Sudan. The fighters accuse the government of plotting to stay in power indefinitely, not fairly representing and supporting all tribal groups while neglecting development in rural areas.

President Salva Kiir alleged that on 14 December 2013, a (largely Nuer) faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army loyal to former vice president Riek Machar attempted a coup d’état and that the attempt was put down the next day. However, fighting broke out, igniting the South Sudanese Civil War. Machar denied trying to start a coup and fled, calling for Kiir to resign. Ugandan troops were deployed to fight on the side of the Kiir. In January 2014 the first ceasefire agreement was reached. Fighting still continued and would be followed by several more ceasefire agreements. Negotiations were mediated by "IGAD +" (which includes the eight regional nations as well as the African Union, United Nations, China, the EU, USA, UK and Norway). Following a ceasefire agreement in August 2015, known as the "Compromise Peace Agreement", Machar returned to Juba and was sworn in as vice-president. Following a second breakout of in Juba, Machar was replaced as vice-president and he fled to Sudan.

There were ethnic undertones between the Dinka and Nuer in the fighting. The conflict has killed up to 300,000 civilians, including notable atrocities such as the 2013 Nuer Massacre in Juba and 2014 Bentiu massacre. More than 1,000,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and more than 400,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, especially Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, as a result of the conflict.

The best solution to have a permanent and lasting peace in South Sudan has not yet been found till today. However, as a concerned South Sudanese citizen, I am now convinced that the best solution to end the current conflict and ensure lasting peace in South Sudan is to introduce a Confederal System of Government in south Sudan.

Under this Confederal System of Government, three Confederal States will be established as follows:-
1. Greater Equatoria Confederal State
2. Greater Bahr-el-Ghazal Confederal State
3. Greater Upper Nile Confederal State

But what is a Confederal System of Government?

A confederal system is a mode of government in which a number of smaller states choose to delegate some of their policy making rights to a central body. In this way, the collection of the smaller states of Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr-el-Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile can be thought of as a country.

How does a confederal System of Government work?

In a confederal system, these smaller states of Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile will make up South Sudan as a country but will have the right to pull out from under the central government at any time. Some of the services that they will cede to the central government will include foreign affairs, internal security issues, military defense, and in some cases, health services. The states that will form South Sudan as a country will retain their legislative rights, which will give them more power and resources.

What are some of the examples of a Confederal System of Government which South Sudanese can learn from?
A good example of this is the former Soviet Union, which was a conglomeration of a large number of smaller states. Another good example of a modern confederal system is the Swiss canton system, in which each of the cantons make most of the policies they need.

What are some Advantages of a confederal System of Government?

As you are all aware, the polity of a country is reflected by its government. Each country adopts a different kind of government, or authoritative system, considering the needs of the nation. Governments around the world are mainly defined by the role and relations between the center and the states or political divisions. Countries of the unitary type have very powerful central governments.
1. In a federation, power and resources are shared between the center and the states. However, a confederation is one kind of government characterized by an inverse center-state relation, where the states are more powerful than the center.
2. A confederate government is one where individual nations or states have united to form a confederation. It is also known as an alliance. Confederation implies cooperation among the member states over significant issues. This type of government symbolizes a centripetal action, where the individual units coalesce to form a league.
3. The most important feature of a confederate government is that, the center derives its power from the states or provinces. Although there may be a common constitution or document specifying the soul of a nation, it does not stand as the source of power for the central government, which is true for the majority of constitutional governments. Rather, in a confederation, for the center to decide upon any important issues, it would require an agreement of all its confederates.
4. Government Confederacies are a unified body of individual states or provincial units. These peripheral units are stronger than the union. They coexist, but maintain their
Separate identities. Each region, canton, or province is considered equal, and has a say in shaping the nature of central authority.
5. Decentralization of Power: States being the decision makers, this governance is completely contrary to the unitary form of government. Thus, legislation and execution is divided among the provincial and local governments. Local governance minimizes the growth of the center, and reduces the risk of it turning into a dominant union or tyranny. Democratic Republics, particularly, are known for the principle of sovereignty.
6. In a confederation, the citizenry is focused more; their needs are better addressed. Thus, the concept of ’citizens being the real sovereign of a nation’ is realized in this type of government.
7. Cooperation: Every state is an independent and sovereign unit of the federation. Agreement among these equals makes decisions over common issues easier. The flow of power is from the periphery to the center, which ultimately rests on the principle of cooperation among the confederates, at least over common concerns.
8. Speedy development of the Confederal States
9. No tribal conflicts or tribal domination of a national governance system
10. It will prevent South Sudan from total disintegration
11. It will prevent South Sudan from becoming a failed Country

Articles of Confederation for the States
Articles of Confederation will be developed. The main purposes of these Articles are
1. To unite the confederal states of Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr-el-Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile.
2. Give the three Confederal states of Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr-el-Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile a united foreign policy
3. Under the Articles of Confederation, every confederal state will have equal representation and a single vote in the unicameral legislature at the Central government
4. Under the articles of Confederation, the Central Government will be left with Defense, Foreign Policy and printing of national currency.

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  • 2 November 2016 13:00, by Hardlinner

    if the 28 states does not work, how would federal system works?. you know equatoria alone as over 50 tribes some of whom are more cultural closer to people in greater bahr el ghazal and upper Nile than they are to other equatorians.

    repondre message

    • 4 November 2016 13:56, by Eastern


      You have all along failed to seek the futility of tribal cohesion. Yes, some tribes in Equatoria may not be closely related but they have used their tribal diversity under the Equatoria brand as a strength which is a force to reckon with. Equatoria is a conglomerate of tribes ready to use their diversity to dwarf the "majority tribe" hullabaloo!

      repondre message

  • 4 November 2016 05:29, by S. Sudan Nationalist

    After all these we need a country with a strong central government like in Uganda. No more proposals that take us to more anarchy. South Sudan had suffered enough from proposals that tend to offer protection to ethnic interests.

    repondre message

    • 5 November 2016 07:52, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

      S Sudan nationalist,

      You people failed the nation and should not dictate terms on other people. A nation state is not forced on to people. A country is made as a result of a compromise among the nationalities in order to create a viable harmonious nation. But if you borrow a leaf from the son of Kaguta and apply it on us definitely you will meet fire.

      repondre message

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