The South Sudanese president unlocks the peace process by agreeing to return to a ten-state model

Salva Kiir, presidente de Sudán del Sur

Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan – PRESIDENCY OF SOUTH SUDAN – Archive

The opposition welcomes the decision, but questions the creation of two of the three new planned administrated areas


The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, has unlocked the main point of friction in the peace negotiations for the African country by reducing from 32 to 10 states their claims on territorial division, as the president said on Saturday in a release.

The South Sudanese president unlocks the peace process by agreeing to return to a ten-state model
The South Sudanese president unlocks the peace process by agreeing to return to a ten-state model

“The concession we have made today has been painful but necessary, if that is what it takes to achieve peace,” Kiir said through a statement asking his rival and former vice president, Riek Machar, that ” be prepared to do the same. ”

Thus, Kiir returns to an old territorial model in which the ten states, according to their statement of proposal, will be accompanied by three “administrative areas”: Abyei, Ruweng and Great Pibor, according to the statement collected by the 'Sudan Tribune '.

The announcement was made coinciding with a meeting of the top government officials held in Yuba to try to overcome the stumbling block of territorial design.

Kiir thus accepts the request made by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development for East Africa (IGAD), which had asked the president to abandon his 32-state model because of the enormous community tensions that it entailed in the Yes, volatile country.

The Minister of the Presidency, Mayiik Ayii Deng, has been in charge of informing Kiir's decision and has stressed that the Ministry of Justice will apply this change with immediate effect, waiting for Machar to pronounce on the proposal, according to the Radio station Tamazuj. Deng stressed that the decision “is for the sake of peace and the unity of South Sudan.”


After the announcement, Machar has expressed his satisfaction, although with “reservations” in regard to the constitution of Ruweng and Pibor as administrative areas. “We fully support the return to the original ten states because disputes over land and borders are resolved. We only have reservations about Ruweng and Pibor,” said a spokesman for the People's Liberation Movement of Sudan-Opposition (SPLM-IO) Machar, Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, in statements to Radio Tamazuj.

Ruweng is one of the oil regions of South Sudan and therefore its separation from the Unity state is questioned. “The issue of the Abyei region is very clear to us, but we wonder why the president has decided to separate Abiemnhom and Pariang to create an administrative zone. Ruweng is part of the Unity state. There is a territorial dispute there,” he said. Manawa

Manawa has explained that they also have reservations about the creation of the Administrative Zone of Pibor in a region previously integrated in the state of Jonglei. In any case, Manawa has stressed that the final number of states would be said in the constituent process before the end of the transition period.

The spokesman has also announced that Kiir and Machar will meet soon precisely to address the issue of Ruweng and Pibor. The objective is to close an agreement on states and on the union of military forces that will allow the formation of a unity government before the deadline of February 22.


When South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011, the country had ten states. As the International Crisis Group points out in a recent report, “state governors enjoy substantial power, have access to resources and influence over political appointments at the local level.”

In addition, “the borders of the states are very important, since they can determine which ethnic group dominates each state and benefits from its resources, including oil,” notes the 'think-tank', which explains that allies of Kiir and Machar would like the number of states to be expanded.

In 2014, when the current conflict had already begun, Machar asked to divide the country into 21 states, after which Kiir redrawn the map and divided South Sudan into 28 states, which later became 32 in order to “favor to its political base, “says Crisis Group.

The last five years of civil war in South Sudan, which broke out only two years after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, has killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced millions. The economy is shattered and almost half of the country is still in a severe hunger crisis.

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