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State Minister of Peace Building, Gerald Francis Nyukuye speaking at workshop in Juba on June 25, 2021 [Photo by Awan]

Federalism in South Sudan Is Not “Kokora,” Official Says

By Awan Achiek

The Minister of Peace Building in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State, Gerald Francis Nyukuye has dismissed fears over the federal system of governance which various parties to the 2018 revitalized peace deal signed to implement as structure of government.

Nyukuye said the ongoing talk in some section of the public that adopting federalism will divide the country along ethnic lines known as “Kokora” is not true and is based on fear mongering with no evidence.

 In June 1983, Jaafar Nimeiri former Sudanese President issued a decree ordering the division of the Southern region into three separate regions: Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile which became known as Kokora.

This system raised ethnic tension and division among people living in the then Southern Sudan where the Khartoum authorities were fighting Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels.

“Federalism does not mean Kokora, it is just devolution of powers to a lower level,” Nyukuye told the Juba Echo on Friday.

“We should not go in that direction of saying when we go for federalism, everybody will go to their areas that is not true,” he added.

Federalism is most popular in the Equatoria region which includes Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria based on several opinions of influential politicians over the past years.

Different groups in South Sudan attach different meanings to the word “Kokora” due to the different ways in which the events of the Kokora period were experienced.  

The Ministry of Federal Affairs has recently been holding discussions and consultations on the federal system of governance that signatories to the 2018 peace deal signed as the suitable system of governance for South Sudan after descending into conflict in December 2013.

 “It does not mean that if we become a federal state, each community should go to their own area. This is not federalism it is just a misconception by those people who are against this system, they are just trying to politicize and mix things up with intention of confusing people,” said Nyukuye.

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