South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Friday announced he is increasing the number of states in the young nation from 10 to 28.
In a decree establishing 18 new states and reconfiguring the existing ones, President Kiir said his decision was guided by South Sudan’s transitional constitution.
He cited several clauses in the constitution to back up his order, including one that calls for "the promotion of democratic principles and political pluralism guided by the principles of decentralization and devolution of power."
Mr. Kiir also cited clauses that allow him, as president, to establish independent institutions and "perform any other function as may be prescribed by law, which the president considers necessary for efficient administration of the country" and others that empower the president to oversee executive institutions, and amend the constitution.
Effective in 30 days
Under the presidential order, the new states will officially be created on November 1.
Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states will be divided into eight states; Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Lakes states will become 10 states; and the three states that currently make up the Greater Upper Nile region -- Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile -- will be carved into 10 new states.
President Kiir will appoint the governors and state legislative assemblies in the new states.
The final clause of the order creating the new states says only President Kiir can amend the order. To do so, he must issue a new order.
The armed opposition loyal to former vice president Riek Machar said the presidential order creating the new states was a violation of the peace deal that Mr. Kiir and Machar signed in August. Machar's SPLM-in-Opposition called on President Kiir to rescind the order.