South Sudan’s new unity government will soon have to appoint state governors to avoid an implosion over the distribution of posts.
Of the key executive positions created under the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, the 10 state governors have yet to be appointed, nearly two months after the unity administration was set up on February 22.
On Wednesday, members of the public in the 10 states appealed to the presidency to accelerate the appointment of governors, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek Ateny said the disagreement over the allocation of states is delaying the appointment of governors.
“The parties have not yet agreed on how many governors should be allocated to each party because of the percentages—45 per cent against 65 per cent. The 45 per cent is to go to all the opposition groups, including the In Opposition (SPLM-IO), South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), and OPP,” he said.
The SPLM-IO is the group that split from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and is led by First Vice President Riek Machar.
The SSOA is a grouping of other parties outside the SPLM-IO. The OPP is a group of splintered leaders who did not side with either SPLM-IO or the SSOA, but were also fighting the government of President Salva Kiir.
The SPLM-IO has 27 per cent of the 45, the OPP has eight per cent and the SSOA has 10 per cent.
Kuol Nyuon, a political analyst and a professor of Social and Economic Studies at University of Juba, says the delay in making the appointments could ruin co-ordinated plans to respond to the coronavirus: South Sudan has two confirmed cases.
“The absence of governors creates a vacuum in co-ordinating the government policies at the grassroots. When President Kiir appointed the high committee on coronavirus, he should have issued an order that constitutes committees at States level. The current secretary generals would have powers to set up committees to handle the coronavirus,” said Mr Kuol.
A group of civil society organisations last week asked President Kiir to appoint the governors, citing that there many locals will lose their lives if the pandemic hits the states without leadership in place.
Dr Lam Akol, one of the leaders of the SSOA, said the discussion on state allocations is scientific and does not warrant any discussion.
According to Article 1.16.1 of the revitalised peace accord, the Incumbent Transitional Government of National Unity (I-TGoNU) gets 55 per cent, SPLM-IO gets 27 per cent, SSOA 10 per cent and OPP eight per cent. The percentages are translated into 5.5 seats for I-TGoNU, 2.7 for SPLM-IO, one for SSOA and 0.8 for OPP.
Last month, head of UNMISS David Shearer expressed concern over the political vacuum.
He said the absence of political leadership, especially in Jonglei State, has contributed to the outbreak of inter-communal violence.