Ruweng State in South Sudan Map
Ruweng State (red) in South Sudan's Map

President Salva Kiir has said, Ruweng State will have a special administration called Ruweng Administration Area (RAA).

Kiir revealed this while announcing his decision to revoke the 32 states Saturday morning.

Ruweng was created when President Kiir divided the country into 28 states in 2015 and later increased to 32 in 2017 following the request for more states by First Vice President Taban Deng Gai.

The state was carved out of the two counties of Pariang and Abiemnhom within Unity State. The two counties were the only Dinka-inhabited counties in Unity State. They are the homeland of Dinka Ruweng.

Some of South Sudan’s oilfield reserves are located in Ruweng. It is the most oil-producing state in South Sudan, about 80% of South Sudanese oil is produced here, mainly in Unity oilfield (in the southern part), Heglig oilfield (in the north-western part), Toma south oilfield (in the western part) and Toor oilfield.

If this move is accepted by the government’s peace partners, the new administrative area will join Abyei and Pibor with the same status.

Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) was created in 2014 following the signing of a peace agreement between the then Murle rebel leader, David Yau Yau — now governor of Boma State — and the government. Yau Yau’s rebel movement had demanded that Pibor and Pochalla which used to be counties under Jonglei State are made a state. His demand was granted by the government paving the way for peace in the area.

The administrative area was fully made state and renamed Boma Stae in 2015 when president Kiir divided the country into 28 states.

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With this new development, Kiir said Boma will once again have a special status and again renamed as Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA). Its status will be determined in the making of the new constitution during the transitional interim period.

The third administrative area will be Abyei Administrative Area (AAA). The area will continue to have a special status according to the President. Abyei is at the centre of a dispute between South Sudan and Sudan. It was placed under the special status in 2005 by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) pending a referendum vote in 2011.

The people of Abyei were to vote in a separate referendum to decide whether to be part of South Sudan or Sudan. Abyei referendum was delayed when the then Bashir’s regime and the then government of Southern Sudan failed to agree on people that are eligible to vote in Abyei Referendum.

In October 2013, fade up with the delay of their destiny, the Dinka Ngok people of Abyei organised unilateral referendum. In the symbolic referendum, 99.9 percent of voters in the disputed region of Abyei favoured joining South Sudan over Sudan

The referendum outcome was not rejected by both South Sudanese and Sudanese governments. The International community and the UN as well didn’t recognize the referendum.

Up to date, both governments of South Sudan and Sudan are still in a deadlock over the issue of Abyei’s referendum.

SPLM-IO’s Reaction

The opposition group SPLM-IO has welcomed president Salva Kiir’s decision to revert the country to 10 states.

While speaking to a local radio station soon after Kiir announced his decision, an SPLM-IO member Nathaniel Pierino Oyet said the issue of Ruweng will be tabled in the next round of talks but was quick to mention that it is not a difficult issue to resolve.

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“… where we have contention is about the status of Ruweng. Ruweng is a proposal that is coming now from the position of the government, that the ten states should be accompanied by the administrative area of Ruweng. This is what I believe will be tabled in the next round of talks and it will be discussed among the parties, so the final outcome we expect, of course, these are not very difficult issues to resolve. The principal issue was the number of states which is 10. Anything extra is subject for discussion,” said Nathaniel Pierino Oyet.