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Updated Apr 14, 2020

South Sudan has still not appointed governors for the country’s ten states nearly two months on from the formation of its unity government. Last Wednesday, April 8, citizens in every state publicly demonstrated to pressure President Salva Kiir to speed up the timetable for the governors’ appointments. Their demands are set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and violence that broke out earlier this month in the eastern Pibor area, which the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) attributed to a lack of state-level leadership.


A member of South Sudanese Ministry of Health's Rapid Response Team take a sample from a man who has recently been in contact with a confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Juba, South Sudan on April 13, 2020. Four cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been confirmed among United Nations (UN) national and international staff in South Sudan. Alex McBride / AFP
A member of the South Sudanese Ministry of Health’s Rapid Response Team takes a swab from a man who had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. (Alex McBride / AFP)


A day after the unity government was announced, President Kiir dissolved the country’s thirty-two states and their governors to pave the way for the creation of the ten new administrative states. However, in a separate decision that same day Kiir maintained the original legislative assemblies and tasked the secretary-generals of the thirty-two states to continue acting as state administrators until the new governors were appointed. The delay is mostly due to disagreement over power sharing between President Kiir’s SPLM, Vice President Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO, and other opposition parties, according to presidential press secretary Ateny Wek Ateny. As stipulated under the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, 65 percent of the governors are to be from the ruling SPLM and 45 percent from the opposition parties.

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