By Mach Paul Mathiang
On October 2, 2015, President Kiir announced a decree that called for creation of 28 states. In the minutes following, the public outburst with the joys and ululations in every corner of South Sudan towns. The idea seemed to be what many people were waiting to hear from the President. In the diaspora, the formation of 28 states was received with mixed opinions, but the citizens of South Sudan carry enough weight that their opinions must be taken seriously.
President Kiir is facing constitutional challenges and condemnation from the G-10, SPLM IO, and Western countries plus IGAD. However, he might take comfort with the court of public opinions which seem to be in favor of his pronouncement of expanding states from 10 to 28 states.
Regarding the Constitutional challenges, the President’s constitutional lawyers have a better position to argue on this case that a constitution is subject to amendment and its can be amended at any time to meet the needs of the people. The original intent of Article 162 of the South Sudan Interim Constitution is not a strict document and it can be interpreted into the current textualism to meet the current demands of the people. The President and his teams of legal advisers and defense teams must arm themselves with the constitutional interpretations to defend the President’s position should there be a legal challenge to the creation of 28 states on the Constitutional ground before the South Sudan Court.
In addition, the President must take the idea of creating 28 states to parliament for debate and for blessings. In doing so, he would invalidate the argument that he does things by himself without including the other branches of the government. Also, at this point, the President doesn’t have to fear parliament would reject the creation of 28 states, given the support from the constituents who have received his proposal with positive response. Therefore, the President and his team need to involve the parliament in the process of formation of 28 states.
South Sudan currently faces criticism from its friendly countries and their demand that President Kiir reverse the decree that he issued to expand the states of South Sudan from 10 to 28 states. In response, the government of South Sudan should let its friendly countries know that there are times that a country can cook its own meal, and such a time is now. Therefore, rejection of the creation of 28 states by friendly countries is a red line that doesn’t need to be crossed but we can still be in agreeance on other mutual interests and not this one.