Small Arms Survey (2015). Real but Fragile: The Greater Pibor Administrative Area
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On 30 January 2014 the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) and a rebel group known as the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A)-Cobra Faction agreed on a ceasefire that laid the ground for a constructive series of negotiations to be held in Addis Ababa. On 9 May the parties signed a peace agreement. The deal put an end to a rebellion that first began in 2010, after David Yau Yau, a Murle civil servant, contested the electoral results for a constituency in Pibor county, Jonglei state. The specific grievances of Yau Yau and his close entourage aside, the struggle had progressively embodied a feeling of marginalization shared by most Murle people against the state government headquartered in the state capital, Bor, which they perceived as hostile and Dinka-dominated. The peace agreement between the GRSS and the Cobra Faction called for the formation of a new Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA). The area comprises the boundaries of former Pibor and Pochalla counties of Jonglei, along the Ethiopian border, in a territory mainly inhabited by Anyuak, Jie, Kachepo, and Murle people, thus strengthening the administrative divide from surrounding counties predominantly inhabited by Nuer and Dinka. In line with the principle of decentralization, President Salva Kiir appointed David Yau Yau chief administrator of the area with a status equal to that of a state governor. This exceptional compromise occurred at a time when the rest of the country was falling into the third civil war in about sixty years—and the first since South Sudan’s independence—between the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A) and followers of the SPLM-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO). In this context longstanding demands for a federal system of governance have become stronger across the country, and were strategically adapted and endorsed both by leaders from the Equatoria region and by the SPLM-IO itself. The latter has proposed the redrawing of the ten South Sudanese states into 21 federal states, including Greater Pibor, in line with the ethnic and administrative mapping
of the colonial period.