July 31, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar have downplayed calls to relocate the country’s national capital to Wau in Western Bhar el Ghazal state, saying the proposal was unjustified and unnecessary.
- Ramciel by Google Maps
Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal state, Rizik Zechariah Hassan, last week publicly proposed that the national capital should be relocated from Juba in Central Equatoria state to his home state capital after meeting president Salva Kiir in Wau.
During his 16 July visit to the state, president Kiir hinted the desire to move to Wau and commended the host communities for maintaining unity and stability.
“You intermingle here as your tribes of Western Bahr el-Ghazal to the extent that we will bring you other people from other places. If your area becomes good and there is security, many people will come here,” president Kiir was quoted in the media as telling community elders from Baggari payam in Wau.
Sources in the government also revealed that the idea was discussed during the visit to the state by the president, adding that the governor was made to sell the idea in the country in order to make a proponent decision look like an initiative from the state government and host communities.
Observers said the decision was prompted by fear of increasing insecurity in Juba given the growing odd relationship between the national and state governments over proposed federalism as well as with host communities in Juba over lands.
However, rebels of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-In-Opposition) led by Machar said the proposal to relocate to Wau lacked justification.
“The idea is unjustified and unnecessary,” said rebel leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, when contacted on Thursday by Sudan Tribune on whether or not their leadership also approved of the proposal.
Dak said because the leadership in Juba was the one responsible for the security and stability of the country, the best thing president Salva Kiir and his colleagues should do was to speedily address the root causes of the prevailing insecurity with the aim to generally resolve it countrywide instead of running away from its “segments.”
He wondered whether Wau, which is located in the far western part of the country, was an isolated territory free from the ongoing crisis in the country.
“Is Wau exempted or free from insecurity? Is it an isolated island and out of reach?” he inquired.
RAMCIEL IS CAPITAL
The rebel leader’s spokesperson added that Ramciel in the centre of South Sudan in Lakes state is the resolved new capital.
He recalled that South Sudan’s cabinet passed a resolution on 2 September 2011 relocating the capital from Juba to Ramciel.
He also added that necessary preparations were to be made by the government for the next three to five years in order to move to the new capital.
Dak further recalled that a team of relevant and concerned senior government officials led by the former vice-president, Machar, visited Ramciel site on 29 July 2012 to assess the area.
Some of the main reasons justifying the relocation from Juba to Ramciel were over land issues and jurisdictions between national, state and local governments’ administrations, coupled with the location of the new friendly area in the centre of the nation.
While Ramciel is about 200 kilometers north of Juba and located on the western side of the White Nile River, Wau is approximately 650 kilometers northwest of Juba on the same side of the River Nile.
Dak further added that the rebel group in its proposal to federally restructure the country into more than twenty states has proposed Ramciel as the national capital.
He however hinted that Juba may continue to host the expected transitional government for a period of time before the relocation to Ramciel will take place.