Parliament Storms Executive Decision On Capital Relocation

Parliamentarians debating on the capital relocation motion [©Gurtong]

Parliamentarians debating on the capital relocation motion [©Gurtong]

During a heated debate, the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly yesterday questioned the unilateral decision by the national executive on the relocation of the national capital out of Juba without involving the three organs of the government.

The legislatures strongly suggested that the relocation of the capital is not an immediate priority even if it was the vision of the Late Leader Dr. John Garang if South Sudan attained independence. They argued that the executive should first work hand in hand with all the three organs of the government before taking any decision into implementation.

MPs raised a lot of concerns that later dragged the House to vote a motion summoning the executive to answer questions on its decision. Many MPs have considered the Executive decision illegal and therefore abusing and violating the spirit of the Transitional Constitution.

The move came after Hon. Tulio Odongi Ayahu of the SPLM Party from the Eastern Equatoria State presented a Member’s privilege motion to the House on the transfer of the national capital from the City of Juba to Ramciel in Lakes State.

Tulio’s motion based on articles 51 and 50 sub-articles 4 and 5 of the South Sudan National Transitional Constitution inevitably drove the House into a hot debate that led to the summoning of the executive.

Article 51 of the Transitional Constitution states that, “the National Government shall have the following organs (a) the Legislature; (b) the Executive; and (c) the Judiciary.”

Meanwhile, the article 50 sub-article (4) of the transitional constitution also states that; “the city of Juba shall be the National Capital of South Sudan and the seat of the National Government. Its territory and administration shall be defined and regulated by law and sub-article (5) states that; “without prejudice to sub-article (4) above, the National Government may relocate the National Capital to any location within the territory of South Sudan.”

On 2nd September 2011 the Council of Ministers passed a resolution stating that, the national capital of South Sudan should be transferred to Ramciel. President Salva Kiir later on passed a Decree based on the Resolution of the Council of Ministers and established a committee comprising of five Executive Members headed by Hon. Jema Nunu Kumba. The committee has started working on the project for the relocation of the capital. It has announced so far a call for companies to carry out a feasibility study of Ramciel to be established as the Capital.

However, this executive decision based on the above articles of the transitional Constitution is considered illegal.

“This has superseded any other legal competence of any other level of Government in the land. What makes it difficult for the Executive to implement this provision of the supreme law by tabling to parliament a bill to define the territory and administration of the Capital?” questioned Tulio in his motion.

Most MPs vowed to speak and react during the debate backing Tulio’s motion. “We need the National Minister of Cabinet Affairs to inform us of the process that led to this decision. This issue must be brought to the House since it’s a constitutional provision,” Hon. Mary Kiden, MP Representative from KajoKeji County asked the House before majority MPs backed her in applause.

Meanwhile, Hon. Andrew Okuni the Opposition Chief Whip of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change, (SPLM_DC) from Upper Nile State backed Otulio’s move that, relocating the capital is not a priority and that, wider consultation from the three pillars of the Government should be involved first before the executive body rush to implement the decision.

“We are going to handle a serious situation; we need not to be told that the relocation of the capital needs huge sums of money. South Sudan has only oil revenue, we are actually in a opposition to reject that, the relocation of the capital is not a priority,” Andrew reiterated.

A senior SPLM Member from Twic East Constituency of Jonglei State, Mr. Deng Dau Deng stressed that; the parliament will need the executive in the House to inform them of the cost projection of building Ramciel as a new Capital. “We need to see the budget that the new capital will need and compare it with the national demand,” said Deng.

The legislatures stressed that, insecurity, education, health, electrification and fighting poverty still remain a critical challenge and should be key priorities that cannot be compared to the development and relocation of a new capital to Ramciel. 

They further demanded the executive to present a South Sudan Development Plan to the House so as to examine and see whether establishment of a new capital is an immediate need with South Sudan being 5 months old after independence.

The August House terminated the debate and passed a motion summoning the National Minister of Cabinet Affairs Hon. Michael Makwei, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Physical Planning Hon. Jema Nunu Kumba currently running the project implementation of the relocation of the capital as the Chairperson and the former Chairperson of the Committee that steered the decision for the relocation of the capital who is the current National Security Minister, Hon. Oyai Deng Ajak.

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