Country Governance

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POGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Local Government: Sudan
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Local Government History

The Sudanese government has implemented decentralization plans as well as a federal structure in accord with the peace process culminating in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005. The Interim Constitution calls for a new elected upper house, the Council of States, consisting of two representatives from each state, to be part of the National Legislature. The states are also to be represented by elected governors and state legislatures, although all of these bodies are temporarily to be appointed by a complex power sharing formula. The Government of Southern Sudan acts as a intermediary between the southern states and the central government. The CPA grants Southern Sudan the right of self-determination after 6 years of a transitional period: a referendum will be held to decide whether the South will secede or not. Abyei, a disputed territory with special administrative status, is concurrently to hold a referendum to decide whether it is to remain in the North or be part of Southern Sudan. President Omar Al-Bashir and Vice President Silvakeer Miradit signed an agreement on June 8, 2008 between the Central government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) that is designed to end to the conflict over the oil-rich Abyei district.

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Administrative Divisions

In 1991, Sudan adopted a new federal structure of government. The nation was divided into 26 states, each with its own governor, legislature, and executive administration. Ten of these states are in the South. State governors and legislators in the South are appointed by the central government until elections can be held, no later than July 2009 according to Article 216 of the Interim Constitution.

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Local Government Budgetary Reform

The central government and the Government of Southern Sudan are working toward greater fiscal transparency by attempting to frame their budgets in accord with the International Monetary Fund’s Government Financial Statistics methodology. Oil revenues are also to be allocated transparently, monitored by the National Petroleum Commission, an independent constitutional body mandated to oversee the oil industry. Article 192 promises 50 per cent of the net oil revenues to the South. Transfers of these revenues to GOSS and in turn to state governments are crucial for the impoverished south, with its very limited non-oil tax base. Sudan’s economic hardship has encouraged the government to de-concentrate administration to the state and local levels. All state expenditures for infrastructure and social services were decentralized to state governments. Most states have lacked the necessary resources or revenues to provide effective services. The states receive have the right to levy taxes on their population, but given the poverty of most states, the majority of state revenues come from intergovernmental transfers from the federal budget. In 2006 roughly one-third of the federal budget, amounting to over 8 per cent of GDP, was allocated to the states.

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Reform: Fiscal Decentralization

Significant fiscal decentralization is unlikely, despite the devolution of most infrastructure expenditures to the states, because they necessarily rely heavily upon transfers from the central government, which in turn derives 60 per cent of its revenues from oil exports, which are expanding. The states remain depend heavily upon these transfers.

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Local Elections

Until elections can be held the president appoints the members of the Council of State and the governors in consultation with the vice presidents. Article 184 of the Interim Constitution allocates the seats in the state legislatures as follows: 70 per cent of the seats in the northern state legislatures are reserved for the government’s National Congress Party and 70 per cent of the southern seats for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. Each of these parties acquires an additional 10 per cent of the seats in the other legislatures, while other political forces are allocated 20 per cent.

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