KHARTOUM – There are many local government systems in Sudan between the state system in force, the regional systems, and self-government under the peace agreement, which raises questions about how Khartoum manages these disparate systems, and to what extent they can constitute hotbeds of secession.
The constitutional decree issued by the President of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, last Sunday stipulated granting the regions of Southern Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile autonomy “without prejudice to the unity of the Sudan people and land.” Read also Arko Minawi as governor-general of the Darfur region.. Why did Hammock hasten his appointment before the federal rule was approved? To complete governance structures.. Prime Minister of Sudan: Restructuring the Sovereignty Council and Ministers and appointing the Legislative Council within days Between rejection and welcome.. The Sudanese government and the SPLM-North agreement on the secularization of the state Under the Juba Peace Agreement, Al-Burhan grants the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions autonomy
And last month, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok appointed the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Minni Arko Minawi, as governor of the five-state Darfur region.
According to the decisions of Al-Burhan and Hamdok, the system of regional governance and self-government will be applied in 8 of the 18 states in Sudan, and the state system will remain in 10 of them.
Are there fears of a repeat of the experience of the secession of South Sudan?
Terms such as autonomy and regional governance always anger the Sudanese, especially after the experience of the independence of South Sudan through self-determination stipulated in the Naivasha Agreement and ended with secession in 2011.
The First Undersecretary of the Federal Government, Dr. Muhammad Saleh Yassin, told Al Jazeera Net that Article (8) of the peace agreement clearly stipulated that the states of Southern Kordofan, West Kordofan and Blue Nile would enjoy autonomy, provided that this does not lead to secession without prejudice to the unity of Sudan people and land.
The Juba Peace Agreement was signed between the Sudanese transitional government and the armed movements in Darfur and the regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile in October 2020.
But the expert on the seam areas, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Babu Nway, does not hide his fears that the regional and autonomy systems will lead to the separation of these areas.
Babu Nway believes that the text of “not compromising the unity of Sudan’s land and people” is not sufficient to prevent secession, in terms of the fact that the peace agreement for southern Sudan in 2005, in turn, stipulated work for “attractive unity”, and despite that, the south went.
How do citizens understand autonomy?
The expert in the seam areas considers that autonomy, in light of the current fragility of the Sudanese state, is unhelpful and contains fears “because the citizens in these areas do not understand it, but the politicians decide on their behalf because the rebel is the one who imposed war and peace and the idea of marginalization.”
He believes that it would have been better to put the autonomy in the two regions or the Darfur regional system through a referendum so that the citizens bear the consequences of their choice, and warned that in the absence of freedom of movement and lack of homogeneity, the autonomy would be devoted to hotbeds of separation.
He pointed out, in his interview with Al Jazeera Net, that most of the experiences of autonomy ended in secession, and that the demand for autonomy for South Sudan was raised in the Ethiopian Kokdam Agreement in 1972 for the south to gain its independence in 2011.
The Juba Peace Agreement approved a federal system of government based on 8 regions, instead of the current 18 states.
What are the justifications for autonomy?
However, Saleh Yassin asserts that the autonomy has justifications, and his experiences have succeeded in settling territorial disputes, as happened in Italy.
He says that autonomy is tantamount to independence, but without raising another flag, and it guarantees citizens to govern themselves and guarantees them incentives for development through the division of wealth and power.
The peace agreement granted the movements the position of governor of Blue Nile State and the positions of deputy governor in the states of South and West Kordofan, provided that the position of governor of South Kordofan goes to the SPLM-N led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu, who is currently negotiating with the government.
He stressed that one of the greatest gains of autonomy is the sustainability of peace, not returning to war, stimulating non-signatory armed movements to catch up with peace, and closing the door to self-determination.
Does the multiplicity of local government systems confuse the scene?
According to Babu Nway, the plurality of local government systems causes significant confusion, as the existence of autonomous, regional and state systems in one country is unbelievable, as he put it.
He expected the emergence of intersections in the laws and powers between the governor of the Darfur region and the governors of the five states in the region.
For his part, Saleh Yassin denies the occurrence of confusion due to the plurality of regimes because the texts regulate the relationship between levels of government, according to him.
He explains that the autonomy granted the three states 61 exclusive powers, and the regional government in Darfur granted 28 exclusive powers, while there are joint powers between the federal government and the levels of autonomy and regionalism, which confirms the “holds of unity.”
He stresses that there is no conflict, as each region has its own peculiarity, and the goal is to stop the war and achieve development balance, and in the future it is possible to harmonize laws and adopt a local system of government in one format.
What is the status of West Kordofan?
Although the constitutional decree was devoted to granting the regions of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile autonomy, it also spoke of granting the same system to the state of West Kordofan in its current status, provided that the Conference of the System of Government in Sudan determines its borders with Southern Kordofan state.
West Kordofan state was abolished based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, and it was dissolved in North Kordofan and South Kordofan states, and after the secession of South Sudan, it returned again in 2013.
The expert in the areas of contact with Babu Nway believes that there is a current intention to re-dissolve West Kordofan State, which could lead to a conflict in the area whose people demanded to give them this state. Therefore, it would have been better for the citizens to vote between keeping their state or annexing it to North or South Kordofan.
He explains that West Kordofan has a deep population overlap in the localities of Lagawa and Kilik with South Kordofan, while other areas strongly overlap with North Kordofan State, such as Al-Khoei and Al-Nuhud.
Any tips for managing the current situation of multiple local government systems?
Yasser Arman, deputy head of the SPLM-N, advises against using the New Sudan vision as a mechanism to tear Sudan apart, but rather as a vision to unify Sudan within the framework of a democratic civil state based on citizenship without discrimination.
Arman said on his Facebook account that “the system of self-government comes within the framework of strengthening the unity of Sudan, and the relationship between self-rule and the unity of Sudan is an organic and indissoluble relationship.”
Babu Nway indicates that the success of local government systems depends on the abolition of the powers of the states and the current laws and the creation of new laws to administer the regions with a new division and new powers, guaranteeing to the citizens of the states new privileges after the removal of powers from their states.
He says that the citizens of Sudan’s regions are required not to conflict, to uphold the values of coexistence, and to hold conferences for local government to determine how they will govern themselves.