September 6, 2011 (RUMBEK) – Around a thousand people in Lakes state turned out on Sunday to celebrate the relocation of South Sudan’s capital from Juba in the south of the country to centrally positioned Ramciel.
- Lakes state governor Chol Tong speaking to the press in his office about the relocation of South Sudan’s capital to Ramciel. (ST)
The Governor of Lakes state Chol Tong Mayay congratulated South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the country’s newly appointed council of ministers for the bold decision, which comes just less than two months after the country gained its independence.
Sunday’s celebrations were held in Yirol West, Yirol East and Awerial counties.
Mayay said that Lakes state was "very proud" to become the host of the capital for Africa’s 54th country.
Governor Chol said the community in area had offered the land to build the new capital without any conditions to the government.
"I here also would like to thank chiefs and community of Yirol West, Yirol East and community of Awerial for their courageous to offer this land to the government without any condition".
John Garang, the first president of Southern Sudan, reportedly wanted to place the national capital in Ramciel during his administration, but he died before South Sudan achieved independence and its largest city of Juba became the capital instead.
The area is inhabited by the Chiec community of the Dinka ethnic group, who keep cattle and cultivate crops in the highlands of the area during the dry season, while moving to the Nile marshes during the wet season.
There are conflicting reports over its suitability for larger-scale construction, with some characterising the area as sunken and swampy. Others contend that the rocky highland areas could can support a major city.
LAKES CITIZENS WELCOME NEW CAPITAL
Abraham Maker Gol, a student from Lakes said that the it was a "radical decision that deserves popular support from logical citizens. The issue of land in Juba, was derailing development. In the six years since South Sudan gained self governance there have been political tension in Juba between the states and national legislature and ministries, with both trying to assert their authority on land issues in particular".
“I am very happy for the president of Republic of South Sudan, to choose Ramciel as [the] capital city of South Sudan", James Malou a Lakes state resident said in Rumbek. "I am really telling our citizens [that] it is the right time to build international city in that place."
According to Kau Matueny, having the capital city in Ramciel was the answer for their suffering during the 22 year with the Khartoum government in North Sudan. “It is a privilege and a gift to the people of Lakes State for our contribution in the liberation struggle no matter how marginalised we are - this is our only gift”, he said.
Mark Ochieng, said that it had been a mistake to have the capital in Juba as it was a junction between neighbouring Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. "I love the president’s decision to relocated [the] capital to relate [to] all the 10 states of the Republic of Southern Sudan", he said.
The new location is near the geographic center of the country and borders the three greater regions of Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazala and Upper Nile. It is very close to the point at which the borders of Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, and Lakes states meet.
Manyher Makuendit, another resident, cautioned that “there will be advantages and disadvantages of the new capital’s location, warning local inhabitants of the consequences. The capital will be governed by the national government and not by the host state.
Ramciel no longer belongs to the local residents, he said, it now belongs to all Southern Sudanese people regardless of their tribe.