Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 10 August 2012

Why Juba should continue to be the national capital of the New Nation?


By Luka Biong Deng

August 10, 2012 —The politics of establishing capital cities in many countries shows complexities and sometimes acrimonious history, particularly for the countries that existed for a long time and with expanding urban population. The politics of capital is not unique to the national capital but it also exists at all levels of government. South Sudan as a new nation can learn from the experience of other countries in establishing a capital city that will be time proven and for generations to come.

Prior to the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), our Great Leader Dr John Garang commissioned a technical committee to conduct a feasibility study for the new capital of the South. Ramciel was identified as potential site for the new capital city as it lies between the three greater regions of the South, Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile. Although the assessment committee came back with a comprehensive report, the project of the new capital city was not kept alive because of new realities after the untimely death of our Leader Dr John Garang.

During the negotiations of the CPA, Juba was only mentioned 12 times in the entire document and only in the Ceasefire Arrangements Agreement. It was implicit from the reference to Juba that it was going to be the capital city of Southern Sudan. In particular, the Ceasefire Joint Military Committee and the Headquarters of the Joint Integrated Units were agreed by the Parties of the CPA to be located in Juba. In fact during the drafting of the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, the issue of capital city was one of the issues discussed by the Drafting Committee with Dr John Garang three days before the plane crushed that took his life. Dr John was clear that Juba was going to be the capital city of Southern Sudan after the formation of Government of South Sudan while Ramciel to be a future capital city of the South.

Immediately after we lost our leader, the SPLM Leadership met in New Site not only to resolve the issue of the successor but also to decide where to bury the body of our Leader. Although the issue of successor was rather straightforward as it was implicitly provided for in the resolutions of the SPLM First National Convention, the decision of where to lay to rest the body of our Leader was rather acrimonious as it triggered the discussion about the capital city. Some argued that the body of our Leader to be laid to rest in his home area, while other others argued for Juba. Some serious concerns were raised about the bitter experience with Kokora that made some of our leaders to question the rationale of burying the body of our Leader to rest in Juba as the experience of Kokora may repeat itself.

Our leaders from Greater Equatoria reassured the SPLM Leadership meeting that with the body of our founding father to be buried in Juba, then this will make Juba a symbol of our unity and a litmus test to our commitment to the values of unity in diversity for which we fought. On the basis of such commitments, the SPLM leadership decided not only to bury the body of our Leader in Juba but also made Juba the capital city of the South. As a founding father of the SPLM and the President of the Government of Southern Sudan, it was logical that the SPLM leadership took such decision. The SPLM leadership also emphasized that the liberation struggle heralded by the SPLM is meant to build new South on new basis and that Kokora was a result of the divide and rule policy pursued by the regime in Khartoum to weaken the unity of the people of the South.

When I attended the burial of the body of our Leader in Juba, the people of Juba showed a remarkable and unprecedented respect to their leader as the entire city was mourning in agony and in tears. I still vividly remembered the special prayer for the body of Dr Garang in Juba Cathedral Church when all prayers were in tears during the procession. People of Juba sent a clear message that they have not only loved Dr Garang but they considered him as their savior and symbol of their sacrifices. In fact the people of Juba have remarkably dashed the fears about Kokora and set good example of the togetherness of the people of the South under the banner of the SPLM vision of the New Sudan.

In reflecting the political will of the people of the South, our legislative assembly adopted in 2005 Interim Constitution that affirmed Juba as the national capital of the South. Unlike the Interim Constitution, the Transitional Constitution of our new nation reaffirms in Article 50 (4) Juba to be the national capital of the Republic of South Sudan but also allows the national government in Article 50 (5) to relocate by law the national capital to any other location within the territory of the South. Surprisingly and without due respect to the provisions of our constitution, the national council of ministers decided to relocate the national capital to Ramciel without due process of the law. Despite my ignorance of law, it is a common sense that such major decision of relocating the national capital to be subjected to wider consultation and not to be decided by few of us. That is the reason why our constitution makes it very that a decision to relocate the national capital can only be done by law. One would have expected the national council of ministers to prepare a bill for relocating the national capital and such bill to be discussed by national legislature (National Parliament and Council of States) and becomes a law after its approval.

This simple process of building a national consensus through legislative process has been overlooked by our national government and proceeded instead to implement its decision of relocating national capital by forming special committee and preparing huge and expensive project for building the new national capital. I was surprise last week to hear from our national TV the news that our national government has started with the process of moving to the new capital in Ramciel. I was rather chocked by the timing of such move by our government when our nation is facing serious and difficult economic conditions as articulated well by the national Minister of Finance when presenting the austerity budget to our national legislature.

The real question is whether the relocation of the national capital is priority to our new nation. While I do understand the reasons that might have made our government to take such a decision to relocate our national capital, the challenge of dealing with indigenous communities where the capital is located is not unique to the people of Juba but it is a common phenomenon seen in many capital cities of the world. Even in the case of Ramciel as the proposed new capital, the national government will face the same challenges that it encountered in Juba. I came to learn there are groups of people who claimed to be from Ramciel who complained to our government that they have not been consulted on Ramciel becoming the new national capital. It is important for our national government and the SPLM to continue dialoguing with the people of Juba to address their concerns rather than avoiding such challenge by relocating our national capital. We should not forget that the people of Juba, particularly the Bari community did not only participate remarkably in our liberation struggle but showed utmost level of respect to their leader Dr Garang when his body was brought to rest in peace in Juba. I know there are some individuals, who tarnished the image of the Bari community over Juba as national capital, but I am sure the average and normal Bari has seen during the last seven year the fruits of Juba as a national capital.

Also given the appalling living conditions of our people, our government is expected to make best use of the available meager resources to provide basis services to improve the distressful status of the Millennium Development Goals of our new country. Before independence our people had high expectations that their living conditions would improve after independence and it is natural that our government has to prioritize needs and to sequence such priorities to meet the needs of our people. Certainly, relocating national capital is not at all a priority to our people and it may be leisure in the context of the current conditions. During the last seven years Juba has witnessed remarkable development and expansion with vibrant economic activities as a result of huge investment by national government in building infrastructure for most of its institutions. In fact the name of Juba becomes synonymous with the name of our new nation. Also having Juba as our national capital will cement and strengthen the unity of the people of the South and this will alley the fears and feelings among some Equatorians that they are marginalized. Equally, the uncertainty around national capital is discouraging big investment in the South including the building of offices for foreign embassies in Juba. This huge political and economic infrastructure and presence of the Mausoleum of Dr Garang in Juba as well the economic hardship faced by our country will make Juba to continue as our national capital.

Luka Biong Deng is a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. He can be contacted at lukabiong@kushworld.org

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  • 10 August 2012 20:24, by Ruach

    Luka!Do u mean that Juba shouldn’t be left because a sick bald dead man was burried here?No problem,you will remain with Garang the man who could lead the nation to hell were he alive!Thanks to God and death to any disciple who still preaches his confusions!!

    • 10 August 2012 20:33, by Ruach

      You will remain with his mauseleum and we must move ahead with our New City!

      • 10 August 2012 20:40, by Ruach

        Folks.How have you judged konkoc,konkoc?Of course it generates humiliations and submission of your mind and properties!It seems that fake Arabs are too gainful in this fake deal as the oil is poured down by man with no fionacial clue in his mind and no love for the nation of as well.Deaths to konkoc singers!!

        • 10 August 2012 21:50, by Michael Angelo

          Shut the fuck up and enjoy what late Dr. John Garang brought to you free of charge back stabbers. You have a right to criticize Luka Biong’s article but insulting late Garang was deplorable and disrespectful.

          • 11 August 2012 04:10, by wang

            Michael Angelo
            Garang had achieved nothing in our struggle and everyone in the South has a right to insulted Dr. Dead and stops using that Garang word (stabbers). Garang was one who stabbed the main moments by killed Gai Tut and only him knows the meaning of that word.

          • 11 August 2012 10:11, by Ruach

            I will fight from the tooth to the nails like Dr Machar whose vision is respected worldwide and enjoyed today.Deaths to any Garang boys preaching us with confusions!!

        • 10 August 2012 22:34, by panom lualbil

          Your hatred against LIBERATOR [late GARANG] will one day let bullets be fire through fucking ass, unless you’re just coward who talk in the darkness. Dont you read article by Greedy [REIK MACHAR] that without spla by GARANG, we wont reached by MEDIATORS CPA, bitch!

          • 18 August 2012 17:37, by Royal Nerenity

            hey guys
            i want to express my analyze that Luka biong is man of personal interest not public interest of nation, i know very well that he has properties in juba e .g business buildings, he investment when he was cabinet minister in GOSS. if we talks about development of our young nation do we have right to give personal interest to impress such bad statements against new nation, juba shouldn;t cap

        • 11 August 2012 19:08, by panom lualbil

          What is konkoc, sucker ?

          • 11 August 2012 19:27, by panom lualbil

            RUACH ?
            Fighting with teeth and nails in anonymous is for cowards and slaves stooges. Just do it and there will be NO amnesty offered by SPLM like for REIK MACHAR. When something was said by SPLM the ruling party, there should be NO doubt or change by any traitors whether you love it or not. Who are you to put your on our affairs? Just eat and live visionless.

    • 11 August 2012 08:09, by Abikacha

      With due respect to you dear uncle Biong, i duly and totally agree with you but have you given yourself time to think of consequences bear by your idea of city location? You are senior member of liberation council as u stated it and so your public outburst bear much magnitude to public especially in South Sudan. I would advise you that we are still young in everything especially politicians like y

    • 11 August 2012 08:18, by Abikacha

      . I would advise you that we are still young in everything especially politicians like you won’t take it lightly as it will be seen that you are inciting public. Anyway I like it but how will it be perceived, just like you have seen some responses?

    • 11 August 2012 08:35, by Abikacha

      Since you are public figure, you must understand that anything you twist your thoughts over it cannot be taken easily my dear Biong. I am very concern on how people to your views of the city though you are entitled to give your mind like any other South Sudanese. All I don’t feel comfortable with is anything diverting our thoughts as I want us to fix our attentions to our chief foe as I see you b

    • 11 August 2012 08:48, by Abikacha

      ... as I can see you be the next rebel leader should talks over Abyei fail to bear fruits please let us deal with main tasks of getting our borders secure as I can see the issue of Abyei needs serious attention from Residents of Abyei like you to be creative thinkers and leave politics aside for time being until we are liberated from ruthless regime of Khartoum.

    • 11 August 2012 14:31, by Jimmy Taban

      Dear Biong thanks for the article and giving as a rational insight on this. I agree with you, with the economic hard the contry still faces, Ranciel shld be reserved for the future. A master plan on how to transform Juba to a modern city should be developed in partnership with the Gov’t of CE and the Bari Community. Both legal and Policy Framework to guide this establishement shld be put in place.

    • 13 August 2012 15:30, by Bungachier 50

      You are the Judias Scariot to the Government of the Rebuplic of South Sudan and to the south Sudanese people. The National Capital of the Country is not built to please any body rather than looking at the Future Expansion of that Capital City. Ramciel belongs to all the South Sudanese People not any Single tribe owns it. You are a SHAME!!!!! to us. Don’t creat ill feelings in p’le.

    • 17 August 2012 07:57, by jubaone

      Luka Biong´s analysis is purely academic and irrelevant to real issues about the subject matter. Rather, Ramciel offers a dispensation for new start, a new Kokora opportunity for unity. Understandably, Biong´s analysis highlights that innate drive to live in Juba, where there is good food. This, will not make him an Equatorian either. He remains a J....He is better off in Ramciel.

  • 11 August 2012 01:19, by Akol Liai Mager

    I disagree With Dr Luka!! Infact Dr Luka has remarkably depended his point that Juba should remain S.Sudan’s Capital City. I just bursted to tears as I too remember the song sung by Juba’s residents in prayers for the Soul & body. But, and despite ageeing with almost all the reasons presented by Dr Luka, I disagree with him on 2 points namely; "facing challenges and a need for S.Sudan government-

    • 11 August 2012 01:28, by Akol Liai Mager

      Conts. "need for S.Sudan government to prioritise providing basic needs to our people". First of all Formulas are the means to solve most of Algebra’s questions. Indeed history is a formulae to solve most of Political issues including deciding on the Venue and base of the government. So, this is a political decision taken in the wake of the political history of S.Sudan in regard to Juba.

      • 11 August 2012 01:35, by Akol Liai Mager

        Political decisions are always face with challenges and even can be controversials. So, let faces those challenges and work hard to overcome them. on the other point "prioritising", relocation of Capital cities are other ways of developing and building the nation. Relocation can create jobs, new infrastructures and cheaper way to build a modern city. Emagine how much would it cost S.Sudan....

        • 11 August 2012 01:44, by Akol Liai Mager

          Conts. Emagine, in comparison with relocation costs, how much would it cost S.Sudan government to renovate Juba’s Infrastructures from buildings to roads? The Juba I have seen should only be renovated by business people only to be business Centre/Captial not for the base of government. I am for the relocation of S.Sudan’s Capital City to Ramciel or elsewhere in our nation.

  • 11 August 2012 03:56, by wang

    Dr.John Dead doesn’t even deserved to be buried in Juba at a first place. To Garang Boys that including Dr Luka, the survey is already completed and constructors are just about to transfer their equipments into Ramciel. Stop feeding public with lies

    • 11 August 2012 18:04, by panom lualbil

      wang and ruach
      Your retaliated toward MARTYR will earn you deaths like GAI TUT one day. You’re rebeled but nowhere to be seen, while talking the cowards’ talk. Bring it up losers, splm is still ruling your retorted slave ass. Children whom parents ban to camp on streets when ran short of foods provision. Who do you show your anxiety of being a child abuse by parents, fool? SPLA used to kill

      • 11 August 2012 18:20, by panom lualbil

        your slave leaders who incorporated arabs to stab us, similarly to those militias [ssdm & ssda] leftover by REIK MACHAR from NUER whom OMER used against us today. The FREEDOM you’re fighting for, is not yet acheived, duh.

      • 12 August 2012 06:27, by wang

        panom lualbil
        You can cry night and day in the name SPLm/A but you are nothing to me.

        • 12 August 2012 21:55, by panom lualbil

          I AM not a nyagate so I wont even compare myself to you or likes. I AM an honorable VETRAN from SPLA/M that you’re coward and stabber from DEAD SSIM or SPLA-UNIT or SSDM/SSDA by REIK MACHAR who still fucking you up through khartoum. Who are you to put your stinky food-mouth on our affairs, sucker? Without DINKA, whom do you think would led us to war to reap this freedom?

          • 20 August 2012 12:52, by Ruach

            He is already in the hell region,not visited by any one except those who have sinned to God

      • 18 August 2012 02:14, by James Maker Akok

        Not all Dinkas have conflict with Nuer people. We thank Dr. John Garang as SPLA chairman but he made very big mistake to killed his Leaders for South Sudan people to have conflict like this. This is very bad among us.

  • 11 August 2012 04:43, by salah

    May the great Dr. Garang rest in eternal peace.

    • 13 August 2012 07:59, by zulu

      That was positive. I hate the Nuer and the Dinka when they get local. This kind of politics means somebody is still backwards and not moving ahead. Without Garang, South Sudan, and Sudan in general had no meaning. Riek, if we praise him without congregadting all aspects of merti and resolve, he is nothing, but to a Nuer. Likewise, when Dinka fight other SS because they are either from Bor,?

    • 13 August 2012 07:59, by zulu

      That was positive. I hate the Nuer and the Dinka when they get local. This kind of politics means somebody is still backwards and not moving ahead. Without Garang, South Sudan, and Sudan in general had no meaning. Riek, if we praise him without congregadting all aspects of merti and resolve, he is nothing, but to a Nuer. Likewise, when Dinka fight other SS because they are either from Bor,?

  • 11 August 2012 06:15, by Madina Tonj

    Dr. Luka Biong Deng
    Although I am from Warrap State, I strongly disagree on this issue. First of all, I think all people who were being killed in action of the SPLA/M are all important just like late Dr. John Garang do but we can not says, let us leave Juba city as a national Capital because of burried body this is very wrong concept and has to be avoid. I think there are factory needed

  • 11 August 2012 06:26, by Madina Tonj

    Dr. Luka Biong Deng
    Again, when people looking to have a national’s capital, there are facts that are needed to be check. 1 Does the environment look good enough for investment and the shape of capital? 2 is that area safer to protected million people that will be living in? 3 Does the Local people agree to give their lands to the Public? Well, Juba is very narrow area for business to expand

  • 11 August 2012 06:38, by Madina Tonj

    Once more Dr. Luka Biong Deng
    Juba city can not and will not be a capital city because there is a major earthquake this is one of the factor. Second to that, we can go back to history of Local in 1968 on, when they Equatorians hate to see none Equatorian to live in Juba it is still today, they said, our land have been taken illegal which they repeated over times and it is another factor and others

  • 11 August 2012 10:23, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

    I can see that the majority in not all of the respondents of this article are still fresh with Kokora hang-over and bitterness against the people of Equatoria. One wonders how we can build a cohesive state with such mentality. It appears we are far away from being capable of building a genuine nation-state of South Sudan. Mature up people.

  • 11 August 2012 10:40, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

    All the problem of South Sudan has emanated from indiscipline, lack of law and order, thuggery and corruption that must be looked into otherwise ours is going to be a nation of shame and retrogress.

  • 11 August 2012 11:00, by errot

    Please also do the economic evaluation to compare in between new capital city Ramcel and upgrading Juba. Such as a new capital city, everything are new and cost will be infrastructure, building, telecommunication,residential housing complex, market, etc. Juba already has infrastructure, but like a house, at some cases, it is cheaper to build a new one than doing renovation.

  • 11 August 2012 11:39, by Liberator

    Regardless of the fact that Nuer/nyagaat left their brothers(muonyjang) on fire n joined the enemy in such of abundant food, I didn’t believe they were the creatures brought to life by mistake. Ruach n Wang...when u left for khartoum, wat did u bring along with u other than begging us for forgiveness in 2002? I thot u wud b the first p’pl to allow this mess to die cold. http://www.youtube.com/watc

  • 11 August 2012 11:45, by Liberator

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgZ1aal478s this was hw ur fathers (khartoumers) mistreated u but all in all u persevered for the seek of getting food. we will continue to remain ur masters whether u like it or not. u will also continue to bow down in respect of dr. john n this will never b done by muonjang to ur living dead,riak machar. try to read more abt this food-loving man. u lack more abt hi

  • 15 August 2012 07:07, by SeekingTruth

    I agree with most of what Dr. Biong said, especially the emphasis that relocating a capital city should not be the priority given the situation this country is currently going through. However, I strongly disagree with the Dr. per the argument that Juba should remain capital because of the Mausoleum. This however does not mean that Dr. Garang do not deserve to be the father of this nation but.....

    • 15 August 2012 07:19, by SeekingTruth

      ...we should all acknowledge that there are more than one heroes/heroines in South Sudan’s history who are buried almost everywhere in the South’s soil. We know Garang is our hero of all time and still, he could remained our hero regardless of where his tomb lay! Keeping the capital city where it is today because of the mausoleum does not justified anything in my opinion.

  • 15 August 2012 23:55, by James Maker Akok

    Juba is deny already to be national capital city, so do not confuse people to bring up about Juba again let government go with New National Capital City in Lakes State Ramciel Union.

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