Oct 30 2012 (JUBA) - The parliament of South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal and the state’s executive have been unable to reach agree on whether to endorse transferring the headquarters of two counties from the state capital Wau, multiple officials told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
The deadlock comes a month after local people protest against the Governor’s decision to relocate the headquarters of both Wau County and Jur River County outside of Wau town. Under the proposal Wau town would then be administered by creating a new position of Mayor.
Governor Rizik Zackaria Hassan’s instruction, according to government officials, was to allow the newly appointed town council to take complete responsibility for running the town. County authorities were asked adjust their territorial jurisdictions. The Western Bahr el Ghazal executive said this was in order to comply with both the state and national constitution’s.
Wau town is the administrative capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal State and has also been the seat Wau County and Jur River County. Many of South Sudan’s internal borders reinforce ethnic divisions and according to some officials the existence of three levels of government in Wau town exacerbated conflict during war the 1983-2005 civil war that led to South Sudan’s independence last year.
“The headquarters of these counties should have been relocated long time ago to their places of origin. Jur River County which has just moved to Nyinakok should have moved long time ago, the same for Wau County. It should also has been moved to Baggari”, Deng Akol, a native of Wau who is currently visiting Juba told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Akol explained that the reasons for which administrative headquarters of these counties were moved to Wau was for security purposes.
Governor Rizik Zachariah Hassan issued a gubernatorial order appointing new commissioners and advisers on 1 October, as well as a new Mayor and his deputy.
The decree instructed the Wau County Commissioner, John Arop Madut, to relocate to Baggari and Jur River County Commissioner, John Peter Miskin, to move to Nyinakok. Jur River’s authorities responded and moved but Wau County’s authorities objected.
Derik Alfred Uya, Western Bahr el Ghazal State Minister Information says that the reason for asking two commissioners to relocate their administrative headquarters from Wau town to places of origin was to enforce constitutional provisions stipulated under South Sudan’s local government act.
Uya explained Governor Hassan was exercising a constitutional provision that sets specified jurisdictions and demarcates areas of responsibilities, arguing that relocation would greatly contribute to delivery of basic services since authorities with expertise in various fields at the county will be within reach.
Minister Uya added that state government met on Sunday with different groups from the Wau Community including Members of Parliament from the area as well youth to clarify issues of the transfer of Wau County headquarter to Baggari.
“It was a good meeting. It brought together different groups. The reason for which it was called was to make some clarifications on the transfer of the county headquarters”, Uya said. He said meeting of the two sides was “beginning of dialogue” in the hope that a final settlement is reached speedily. It is “important” that citizens take the decision in “a positive way”, he added.
However, Edward Ukungeri, Deputy Speaker of Western Bahr el Ghazal Legislative Assembly, said that the state parliament did not sanction transfer of Wau headquarters to Baggari. “The parliament has not endorsed the decision because population in the area will not accept it”, Ukungeri told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.