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02 October 2023

South Sudan mulls new capital for new nation


South Sudan is considering moving its capital to a new site, as the region gears up for expected full independence in July, the information minister said on Sunday.

"A ministerial committee will look into the possibilities, to see the best option," said Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

"It is wanted to have a capital that befits the new nation to be."

The grossly underdeveloped region was left in ruins by decades of war with the north, and voted overwhelmingly for secession in last month's referendum on full independence that is expected to split Africa's largest country in two.

Reaction to the new suggestion on the streets of the current capital Juba -- a  rapidly growing ramshackle town on the banks of the White Nile river -- was mixed.

"It is good to have dreams, to make a new capital for our new nation," said shopkeeper Jackson Hussein. "I think it would be good to have a capital right in the centre of the country."

But others were sceptical.

"We have problems with water, sewage and electricity in Juba at present, and this is the most developed place in south Sudan today," said student Philip Garhok.

"I think it would be better to focus our efforts on making this place work rather than spending money on a whole new site."

Last August, housing ministry officials unveiled extraordinary proposals to develop the south's ten state capitals in animal shapes.

Juba was suggested to be designed in the shape of a rhinoceros, while Wau, state capital of Western Bahr al-Ghazal was unveiled as a giraffe.

No progress on those plans has yet been seen.