Three-State Solution and a New Sudan: Suggestions for a New Constitution By Jimmy Mulla
The Constitution Review Commission established to review the current Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan should consider the idea of reducing the 10 states of South Sudan into three states, or a confederation. The reduction in the number of states will cut down the size of the government of the Republic of South Sudan (ROSS, guarantee a more equitable distribution of resources and enhance security for populations in South Sudan. The Commission should also reconsider renaming the country“ New Sudan”, to leave the possibility for “Blue Nile” and “ Nuba Mountains”, in the event they choose to join the South under the current popular consultation process, or later when their rights are denied in a similar fashion, as former Sudan Vice President and President of South Sudan Abel Alier said,“ too many agreements dishonored”.
Under the current arrangement, the government of South Sudan is too big. According to reports, 80% of the government budget goes to salaries. Assuming these reports are accurate, then cutting down the size of government needs to be considered in order to free up funding for other programs. For example, instead of the proposed 11 agriculture ministers, there could only be four. The salaries and allowances saved on seven ministers could buy seven tractors that could be used by subsidize farmers to produce food to feed a population of some 20,000.
As government institutions have become the main sources of employment, demands for creating more states/counties are on the rise, which will only make matters worse. The three-state solution would redistribute power more evenly throughout the South, reducing the concentration of power in Juba, the capital of the Government of South Sudan (GOSS). The states under the current arrangement are too weak to conduct any meaningful development or assume greater responsibility to deal with local matters.
The strategic move adopted by the National Congress Party government in Khartoum to further weaken the South, to divide the area into ten states, served them well during the conflict. It is now up to Juba-based government to choose to either follow in Khartoum’s footsteps, or return to the traditional roots of South Sudan—Bahr El Gazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile.
The three states structural adjustment would also allow for more equitable distribution of resources, as opposed to concentration in one location. With a bigger budget, more manpower and greater autonomy, the respective states would assume greater responsibility for tackling matters on their own. Malakal and Wau would quickly become urban centers drawing in investments, which would be shared more evenly with nearby areas. (The current ten states revert to districts.)
The reduction in the number of the states would also enhance security and reduce inter-tribal violence. When the South had only three provinces, divisions among the population and level of inter-tribal violence was less, compared to the current situation. Although other factors could be attributed to the crisis, the divisions have only exacerbated the situation. Inter-tribal violence that was unheard of is now more common than ever. More importantly, the redistribution of power will reduce major ethnic tensions in South Sudan, which would have a trickle- down effect on inter-tribal violence. Establishing a just society is priceless.
With redistributed powers, states would be better prepared to deal with serious security challenges posed by such rebel groups as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). For example, if Equatoria were one state, it would be better prepared to deal with the LRA, rather than having all the states deal with an individual one's issues. Equatoria state’s focused effort would not only enhance security in that state, but would also give GOSS the opportunity to focus on bigger security challenges. Bahr El Gazal would be better equipped to attend to Abyei, and Malakal would attend to the Upper Nile region. The South needs to pull together, and this is one sure way to get it done.
The idea of renaming the country New Sudan should be given due consideration in keeping with the legacy of struggle and because of the pending issues with the three contested regions -- Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The populations in these regions fought alongside South Sudanese, also seeking freedom during the long years of bitter conflict, and just leaving them at the mercy of the Northern political establishment is criminal. Already there is fighting in Abyei and news reports have confirmed deployment of large Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the region of the Nuba Mountains, preparing for National Congress Party (NCP) elements to gain tactical advantage. Living large in Juba may be fun, but it should not be at the expense of innocent souls in these regions who have equally sacrificed in the struggle.Perhaps the Commission may have taken all these issues into consideration, but if not, then there is more work to be done. Forward thinking is needed in developing the constitution to create a viable South Sudan nation.