Hon. Tut Gatluak ,
Presidential Advisor on National Security, and
Chairperson of the National Transitional Committee.
Subject: Withholding the announcement of the Commissioner of Makal County in Upper Nile State
Since the last week of January, the people of Upper Nile State had their eyes glued to the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation Television to hear the announcement of their delayed State government. To their relief, the announcement finally came on 2 March 2021. However, it wasn’t complete. The Commissioner of Makal County was not announced nor was the name of the County even mentioned in the Decree that night.
People began to wonder as to why this had happened. It was only a few days ago that we came to learn that the announcement was withheld as a result of a petition written to you on 25 February 2021 by a group calling itself “intellectuals from Upper Nile State” (Attachment No 1). They were eight in number led by a Mr Monyjok Kong Monyjok Agook. The group requested your good self to change the name of Makal County to Ogot (sic) County for the following reasons:
1- That Makal County “does not have any presidential establishment order as a county since 2006 but verbally created by Mr Chan Alak single handedly”
2- The issue was resolved by the Council of States as per its resolution No. 8/2017 dated 16 th October 2017 changing the name from Makal to Ogot. (Attachment No 2).
3- Official letter from the Vice President dated 28 th August 2009 where he clearly mentioned that “Akoka, Baliet and Malakal Counties made up the former Sobat District” (Attachment No 3).
Later on, other arguments were added as to why Makal County should be wiped out of the map of Upper Nile Counties. Some of them are:
1- Article 1 (1) of the Transitional Constitution of Upper Nile State 2011 was quoted as evidence that the former Sobat District was part and parcel of Malakal Town Council. The relevant Article reads:
“Subject to the provision of the National Legislative (sic) referred to in Article 1 (2)(a) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, The territory of Upper Nile State comprises all lands and areas that were under the administration of the former districts of Nasir, Kodok, Renk and Malakal of the former Upper Nile province that now constitute Upper Nile State, as their boundaries stood on January 1, 1956” 1 .
2- A Gubernatorial Order No. 01/2021 dated 08/02/2021 (Attachment No 4) authorizing senior administrative officers as acting Executive Directors in twelve (12) of the thirteen (13) Counties was produced as evidence that Makal County didn’t exist.
We shall in what follows refute these flimsy arguments, one by one.
First, Makal County was established by order of the Chairman of the SPLM and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA No. 003/10/2004 dated 16 October 2004 (Attachment No 5). All the current 79 Counties in South Sudan were similarly established. There is no single reason to single out Makal County.
Second, the resolution of the Council of States referred to in the petition was done within the context of the 32 States existing then. There were more than 300 similar resolutions creating or changing names of Counties all over South Sudan at that time. All these numerous counties were rendered null and void when the country reverted to the ten (10) States and seventy nine (79) Counties on 15 February 2020.
Third, the letter of the Vice President requesting the President to appoint a Commissioner for Akoka County suffers from procedural and factual errors. For one, Akoka has never been run as a separate County in 1990, 2005 or any other time. Since its detachment from Kodok District in the 1960s it has always been together with the Ngok Dinka in Sobat District and later Baliet County which is one of the 79 Counties created by the SPLM/SPLA. The Vice President should have first ensured the establishment of a new County in the name of Akoka before requesting the appointment of a Commissioner for it. The claim that “Akoka, 2Baliet and Malakal Counties made up the former Sobat District” has no basis on the known facts available to all. We stand to be educated on such a claim.
Fourth, the article of the Transitional Constitution of Upper Nile State 2011 quoted is interesting. Ignoring the legal errors therein, the meaning is clear. Why the drafters of that constitution had to go back to 1956 when the 79 Counties formed the basis of the delineation of States’ boundaries is mind boggling. But this is beside the point here. The definition of Upper Nile Districts at that time as came in the article is correct. But those who produced it may have an interpretation different from the reality on the ground. Prior to 1960s Sobat
District never existed. The inhabitants of what later became the Sobat District were divided between two Districts of Upper Nile province at that time: the Dungjol were part of Kodok District and the Ngok Lwal Yak were part of the Central Nuer District before it was re-divided in 1960s. We shall elaborate on this point later. We here reproduce a local government order issued in 1958 which assigns local government officers to the Districts of Upper Nile province among the rest in Sudan (Attachment No 6, emphasis ours). Again, there is no mention of Sobat District because it didn’t exist, not because it was part of Malakal Town Council.
Fifth, Regrading the Gubernatorial Order, actually, Makal County was the first mentioned in the list. The order was for 12 Counties because there was a separate one for Renk County (Attachment No 7).
We now turn to as how Sobat District came about. In 1931, Upper Nile province comprised the following districts :
1- Northern (The Dinka of Renk and Melut)
2- Shilluk (Shilluk, Dunjol and Ruweng)
3- Nasir (Jikany Nuer and Khoma Burun)
4- Akobo (Anuak and Beir)
7- Abwong (Lau Nuers (Gun and Muor), Ngok Dinka and Ballak Dinka)
8- Zeraf Valley
9- Western Nuer, and
This is a quotation from the most authoritative reference on the peoples and administration of the Upper Nile province. Yirol was detached from Upper Nile in 1936. Later the districts of Abwong and Zeraf Valley were amalgamated with the headquarters at Fangak. Baliet Dinka continued to be administered at Fangak together with the Nuers of other sections. Akoka Dinka (Dungjol) were already part of the Shilluk District. When the Nuer sections administered at Fangak became separate and distinct districts, Baliet Dinka remained alone. This situation
prompted the Upper Nile Province authorities to assign an Assistant District Commissioner to administer them from Malakal, the capital of the province.
In the 1960s, local politicians from both Ngok and Dungjol Dinka (mainly Andrew Wieu Riak, Hussein Ajwong and Awoch Abiel) demanded the amalgamation of their people to form one district or Rural Council. The demand was granted and they were joined in a new district called Sobat Rural Council with Baliet as its headquarters. There was no sufficient infrastructure in Baliet then to host the Council and the new Council continued to be run from Malakal by an ADC. Its presence never affected the running of Malakal Town Council in any way. Hence, any claim of being one is simply absurd.
You will recall that the Parties to the peace agreement formed a joint committee to allocate to themselves positions in the States’ governments. They agreed on reverting to the 79 Counties and listed them; Makal County was one of them.
That is reflected in all the documents of the committee on the basis of which the appointments were made in all the ten States in the country. Let us respect our laws and commitment to peace and get the Commissioner of Makal County announced so that the hard work for consolidating peace begins in Upper Nile State as in its counterparts in the rest of the country. It cannot be Upper Nile State always holding us down.
Flippant arguments at this late hour are meant to detract us from the implementation of the peace agreement we have worked hard to achieve.
Please, accept the assurances of our highest consideration.