National, News

State Assembly objects ‘land belongs to people’ clause

By Charles K Mark


Central Equatoria State Transitional Assembly has taken a firm stance against a key clause in the draft national land policy, stipulating that “all land in South Sudan belongs to the people.”

Led by Speaker Peter Wani Kulang, the parliamentarians highlighted their concerns, specifically pointing to page 32 of the draft policy.

They expressed puzzlement at the rush to adopt the policy, particularly in light of the prevalent challenges faced by the nation.

Article 170 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 as amended, states that land belongs to the people.

“The 1998 law enacted in the Sudan, declaring that all land in the Sudan belonged to Allah and giving the Islamic State as the representative of Allah on earth the power to dispose of land owned by non-Muslims,” said the Speaker.

Kulang said the difference between the 1998 land law of Sudan and the provision of Article 170 of the South Sudan transitional Constitution is replacing the name Allah with the people of South Sudan and non-Muslim, which may refer to certain ethnicities in the same selected regions of the country.

He believes that the inclusion of the provision in the Supreme Law of the country was done in bad faith and meant to institutionalize and legalize land grabbing.

“We are deeply concerned about the timing for introducing such a sensitive policy at the time,” the MPs stated.

The Parliamentarians are demanding ample time for the involvement of the citizens to have a say on the land policy in question.

“The issue of land governance, and for that matter, the draft national land policy, should be suspended pending the permanent constitution-making process where wider consultation with all communities of the country and its stakeholders will be carried out effectively,” speaker Kulang stated.

CES legislators said that ‘the land belongs to the community’ phrase is more popular, as opposed to the ambiguous ‘all the land of South Sudan belongs to the people of South Sudan.’

The MPs therefore suggest that a nationwide poll or referendum to galvanize popular opinion over the matter must be held.

“The draft national land policy could be in good faith, but some of its parts are meant to justify, and institutionalize the crime of land grabbing and migration of some communities to specific targeted areas in selected regions in a country under the pretext of conflict and natural disasters, as stipulated in section 2.1.3 of the policy,” the speaker noted.

The MPs alleged that many unscrupulous individuals including some in positions of leadership in national government in their utterances especially in clubhouses are openly bragging and quoting the provision of Article 170.

“Those involved in land grabbing and illegal settlement, especially by some particular communities, are openly taking that. They no longer need any permission from any person to acquire land or to settle anywhere,” Kulang stated.

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