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South Sudan relocates its capital from Juba to Ramciel

September 3, 2011 (JUBA) – The newly born Republic of South Sudan has finally resolved to relocate its national capital from Juba to Ramciel, in Lakes state of Greater Bahr el Ghazal region following extensive consultations with stakeholders.

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Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Barnaba Marial, briefs journalists, Juba, 2 September 2011 (ST)

The decision was reached on Friday in the Council of Ministers meeting chaired by the President Salva Kiir Mayardit. This came as a result of a report presented to the cabinet by an ad hoc committee formed several months ago to look into the issue of the capital.

The minister of information and broadcasting and official spokesman of the government, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, after the resolution was passed told the press that the decision was reached in consideration of the current situation in Juba.

He said there had been a “protracted stalemate” between the national and state governments over the status of Juba as the capital which has hampered development of the city because both investors and individuals could not find land to invest or build houses on.

Another factor he said was the decision taken by the Bari community asking the government to relocate from their land. The transitional constitution, he said, stipulates that Juba or any other location in South Sudan shall be the capital.

The ad hoc committee, chaired by the minister of National Security, Oyai Deng Ajak, former minister of Investment, held consultations with the indigenous Bari community in Juba which presented the recommendation to the committee urging that the capital should be relocated from Juba to anywhere else in South Sudan.

The Central Equatoria state government however recommended that both the national government and the state government should have continued to coexist in Juba town.

However, the national government had wanted Juba to be under the jurisdiction of the national government administratively, a demand the state government had rejected.

The state government also rejected other proposals from the national government, including an area called Gondokoro Island North of Juba town to become the new capital for the national level of government.

In 2003 before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the leadership of the movement chaired by late John Garang de Mabior resolved that Ramciel be the new capital for South Sudan. However, the decision was reversed after an appeal from Equatorian intellectuals and elders who wanted Juba to remain the capital.

The relationship between the national government, the state and the host community has not been smooth since 2005.

In a lengthy debate, the Council of Ministers resolved to relocate to the new capital and directed the minister of housing and physical planning to come up with modalities for the relocation process.

Ramciel or Ramkiel, which is few hundreds of kilometers away from Juba, is geographically at the center of South Sudan and is almost no man’s land. Located in the Lakes state, the area borders Jonglei state and is not fare from Central, and Eastern Equatoria states.

The size of the territory for the federal capital will be demarcated in the area and be independent territory outside the jurisdiction the state.

Marial said the process of planning, surveying and putting in place the infrastructures needed may take three to five years to complete. He added that the relocation will be gradual process implemented in stages.