Articles (Opinion/Analysis)

Does South Sudan need a name change?

By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, 29th December 2021

About three weeks ago, the media reported that First Vice President Dr Riek Machar has suggested change of the country’s name from South Sudan to the People’s Republic of Sudan. According to Eye Radio, “Dr. Riek personally suggested that, the People’s Republic of Sudan would match the originality of the Sudan in relation to its history with the people.”

Eye Radio also noted that on 23 January 2011, members of a steering committee on the post-independence governing body announced that upon independence the land would be named the Republic of South Sudan “out of familiarity and convenience.” Other names were also suggested.

Being the journalist I am, people expect my views on the topic, and while I find it right to declare that my efforts to verify the truthfulness of this Eye Radio’s quote with what I earlier read attributed to Dr Machar on the same has not been successful, well to start with, I am of the view that the name the Republic of South Sudan is appropriate and sufficient, including in relation to maintaining our history as people who have seceded from The Sudan as well as other reasons mentioned by others.

It is well known among Constitutional Law Scholars and others that it is Preamble of a Constitution that contains its spirit.

Another point worth stating here is related to a debate I hosted on Radio Bakhita in 2015 with renowned academic and former minister Dr. Luka Biong Deng and veteran politician Steward Soroba, who was representing The National Alliance that was chaired by Dr Lam Akol then. During the discussions, I asked questions about Federalism, the Permanent Constitution Making process in the ARCSS of 2015 by then and the significance of maintaining parts of the preamble of the Transitional Constitution 2011.

So, the issue of the Preamble and my views on the same is probably expected very much publicly.

For the benefit of the reader, let me mention relevant paragraphs of the preamble of The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan here:

“We, the People of South Sudan

Grateful to the Almighty God for giving the people of South Sudan the wisdom and courage to determine their destiny and future through a free, transparent, and peaceful referendum in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005;

Recalling our long and heroic struggle for justice, freedom, equality and dignity in South Sudan;

Remembering and inspired by the selfless sacrifices of our martyrs, heroes and heroines;

Dedicated to a genuine national healing process and the building of trust and confidence in our society through dialogue;

Determined to lay the foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society based on justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law;

Committed to establishing a decentralized democratic multi-party system of governance in  which power shall be peacefully transferred and to upholding values of human dignity and equal rights and duties of men and women.”

Well, on this point, about tracing and acknowledging struggles that have led to South Sudan’s Independence (Sovereignty), here, it is worth mentioning that in The Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005, the following are relevant paragraphs:

“We, the People of Southern Sudan,

Grateful to Almighty God for giving the people of the Sudan the wisdom and courage to reach a peace agreement which ended a long and tragic conflict;

Recalling our long and heroic struggle for justice, freedom, equality and dignity in the Sudan;

Remembering and inspired by the selfless sacrifices of our martyrs, heroes and heroines;

Committed to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 9, 2005 and the Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, 2005.”

So, I find it  normal and right to have had offered my view and continue to have the view that the history of the struggles be traced, mentioned and acknowledged clearly in the preamble of the Constitution since it is the preamble of the Constitution that is its spirit and can help give directions to people and generations to come.

On The Republic of South Sudan and its Territory, the Transitional Constitution says:

1. (1) South Sudan is a sovereign and independent Republic, and it shall be known as  “The Republic of South Sudan.”

(2) The territory of the Republic of South Sudan comprises all lands and air space that constituted the three former Southern Provinces of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile in their boundaries as they stood on January 1, 1956, and the Abyei Area, the territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred from Bahr el Ghazal Province to Kordofan Province in 1905 as defined by the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal Award of July 2009.

(3) The Republic of South Sudan is bordered by Sudan in the north, Ethiopia in the east, Kenya and Uganda in the south, the Democratic Republic of Congo in the southwest, and the Central African Republic in the west.”

On this, a point worth mentioning is that, among other relevant provisions,  in Chapter 6 on the Parameters of The Constitution, The R-ARCSS has provided that the Parties reaffirm their commitment to the ARCSS that a federal and democratic system of governance that reflects the character of the  Republic of South Sudan and ensures unity in diversity be enacted during  the permanent constitution making process.

With so much literature out there already and exchange of views on how best to move forward with the South Sudan peace process, contribute to regional peace and beyond, more healthy debates should just continue, as well as be enabled where it does not exist.

Links to the Article on other media:

https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/opinion-does-south-sudan-need-a-name-change

https://paanluelwel.com/2021/12/30/national-conversation-does-south-sudan-need-a-name-change%ef%bf%bc/

https://www.sudanspost.com/does-south-sudan-need-a-name-change/

https://www.nyamile.com/opinion/opinion-does-south-sudan-need-a-name-change/

Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is the author of the book Freedom of Expression and Media Laws in South Sudan.  He is also the Producer and Host of The Weekly Review: Making Sense of Relevant Topics and News. For more, keep in touch with his website rogeryoronmodi.com

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