December 14, 2021 (JUBA) – An outspoken South Sudanese opposition politician said any move to change the country’s name is not the role of an individual, but the competence of the national parliament.
Last week, South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar suggested that South Sudan’s name be changed to the People’s Republic of Sudan to match the originality of Sudan in relation to its history with people.
He argued that “South” is not a country’s name, but rather a direction.
Lam Akol, in a tweet on Tuesday, watered down suggestions that Africa’s youngest nation be renamed the People’s Republic of Sudan.
Akol, who heads the opposition National Democratic Movement (NDM), said the parliament is mandated to change a country’s name.
He was reacting to a comment made by South Sudan’s former deputy Defense minister, Majak de Agoot, who described Machar’s proposal on change of name as “an early sign of lazy brain syndrome”.
“Lazy brains are symptomized by the inability or unwillingness to revisit decisions taken 10 years ago. More so by not discussing ideas on their own merits however absurd they may sound. However, the change of name is a competence of parliament”, said Akol in a tweet.
Agoot wondered why Machar, who headed the transition committee which approved the country’s current name, now wants it changed.
“Dr Riek Machar was the chair of the transition committee which suggested the young country be christened as the republic of South Sudan in 2011. With his new proposal in 2021 of the People’s Republic of Sudan, could we say it is an early sign of lazy brain syndrome”, he said.
Ustaz Kachuol Mabil, a Juba university lecturer, said a change of leadership should come first before talks regarding the change of name.
“Change of guards first. The name of South Sudan isn’t the reason we’re stuck in vicious cycles of violence and underdevelopment. Dr Riek Machar should present issues of substance than this non-issue”, said Mabil. He asked the leaders to pay attention to important issues.
In January 2011, South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted to secede from Sudan.
A steering committee on post-independence governing body announced that upon independence, the country would be named Republic of South Sudan (RSS) out of familiarity and convenience.
Also suggested were names like The Nile Republic as well as Cush.
A committee meeting of top SPLM members agreed on the Republic of South Sudan, which was approved by the transitional parliament.