The boundaries of South Sudan which were drawn by the British in 1956 are “inaccurate”, claims the minister of cabinet affairs.
According to the new peace accord, the Transitional Boundary Commission is supposed to define and demarcate the tribal areas of South Sudan as they stood on 1 January 1956, and the tribal areas in dispute in the country.
Using 1 January 1956 as a basis, the boundary commission is expected to list and map the tribal boundaries.
However, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro says both the Independent Boundaries Commission and the Technical Boundary Committee did not do enough to address the issue of the number of states.
He, however, points out that the decision on the number of states should not stop the formation of the new government next month.
Dr. Elia believes that the boundaries of South Sudan which were drawn by the British in 1956 have errors.
“First of all, the boundaries of 1956 were drawn by the British during the colonial rule and they were not accurate,” Dr. Martin Elia said in Juba last week.
The minister based his point on the fact that “South Sudanese did not have a voice” in the issue by then.
“Secondly, we don’t have time; we need to have an agreement; we need peace for our people and this is something that we can deal with when we form the government,” Dr. Elia added.
However, the constitution defines the territory of the Republic of South Sudan as all lands and airspace 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.
It also comprises of 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.
Dr. Elia argued that demarcating such boundaries would require recruitment of experts to delimit all the areas across the country.
“It requires both a technical job which is the job of surveyors and anthropologists to tell us traditional borders and then also it requires a political will,” he asserted.
“The IBC took it over and then they also came up with an inconclusive decision. This is something that we are trying to resolve.”