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South Sudanese presidency warns against federalism debate

June 24, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese presidency has issued an appeal cautioning proponents and advocates for federalism to cease debate on the proposed system of governance, saying the need to achieve peace and social harmony was the country’s first priority.

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South Sudan’s presidential spokesperson speaking during a press conference in Khartoum on 2 March 2014 (Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP)

Presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, told Sudan Tribune Tuesday that the country’s leadership under President Salva Kiir, seeks support from the proponents and opponents of federalism prioritising peace as first thing to be achieved.

He however said president Kiir was not opposed to federalism as a system, but did not want the attention of people from Equatoria region to be diverted over federalism, a system he said was being advanced by South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar.

"President Kiir appeals to the people of Equatoria to suspend the demand for federalism and focus on peaceful settlement of the current crisis first. The issue of federalism should be allowed to South Sudanese from all diverse tribes to decide in a referendum the type of governance system they want afterward”, observed Ateny.

He [Kiir] remains committed to forming a transitional government of national unity within sixty days as per the 10 June, 2014 agreement with the rebel leader, added the presidential aide.

The government, Ateny said, was still awaiting the outcome of the petition it recently filed over what was described as the "inappropriate" comments allegedly uttered by a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) towards president Kiir and Machar.

“The government delegation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is still waiting for IGAD’s apology for which one of its executive secretaries used inappropriate words, calling leader of one of IGAD’s member state stupid, was totally out of context and unacceptable”, said Ateny.

EQUATORIANS CRITICISED

Last week, the South Sudanese leader directly criticised the people of Greater Equatoria region over their growing demands for a federal system of governance, alleging that they were “set up” by rebels loyal to his former deputy-turned rebel leader Machar.

In his speech to the country’s national assembly members, president Kiir said the people of Greater Equatoria were speaking aloud on the rebels’ demand for federalism as if they were the first and only southerners to demand for the system from north Sudan in 1947.

He claimed rebel leader Machar introduced federalism as a strategy to split the position of the government.

(ST)