South Sudan to cut civil servant’s salaries to pay African Union

South Sudan president, Salva Kiir Mayardit (Photo via Getty Images)

South Sudan president, Salva Kiir Mayardit (Photo via Getty Images)

JUBA – South Sudan government has no choice, but to cut civil servant’s salaries to pay the accumulative African Union membership fees, a senior government official has said this afternoon.

This comes after the AU sanctioned South Sudan for failing to pay membership fees for a duration of three years, according to South Sudan’s mission to the African Union in Addis Ababa.

Speaking to Sudans Post this afternoon, a finance ministry official said the government had no choice, but to cut the civil servant’s salaries for April and May, to pay the accumulative amount.

“The President has directed that civil servant’s salaries for April and May be cut so that we can pay the African Union,” the official said on condition of anonymity from Juba.

“You have understood that we haven’t been paying out membership fees for three years. On this note, we have no choice but to cut the civil servant salaries,” the official added.

South Sudan’s ambassador to Addis Ababa and the head of the country’s mission to the African Union said in a letter addressed to the government in Juba last week that the country has been sanctioned by the AU over failure to pay the membership arrears for three years.

He said in the letter seen by Sudans Post that they were expelled from an AU meeting after they were informed by the chair of the meeting that their country has been sanctioned by the continental body.

The same official also denied reports that the government has requested a loan from the Chinese government saying the Asian country could not afford to pay South Sudan because of pending loans that have not yet been paid.

South Sudan expelled from AU over $9 million membership fees

Flag of the African Union where South Sudan has been expelled for not paying membership fees for three consecutive years [Photo via AU website]

Flag of the African Union where South Sudan has been expelled for not paying membership fees for three consecutive years [Photo via AU website]

ADDIS ABABA – South Sudan has been expelled from the African Union (AU) for failing to pay membership arrears for more than three years which amount to over $9 million, the South Sudan ambassador to Addis Ababa said.

Petia Morgan who is also the head of South Sudan mission to the continental body said in a letter addressed to the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation that they were informed of the decision shortly before they were expelled from an AU meeting on Tuesday.

“The mission would like to inform your esteemed office that our country has been sanctioned due to lack of payment of its contribution to the African Union,” Amb. Morgan said in the letter seen by Sudans Post.

The diplomat said the country has not paid its contributions amounting to over 9 million dollars ($9,191,234.02) to the AU budget and peace funds for the last three years.

South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan on 9 July 2011, joined the African Union on 27 July 2011, becoming the 54th member. It has been also threatened to be expelled from the East African Community over a similar issue.

Trump told to arrest South Sudan war criminals

Photo: South Sudan former army chief, Gen. Paul Malong Awan and Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak

Photo: South Sudan former army chief, Gen. Paul Malong Awan and Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak

WASHINGTON – A Washington-based watchdog has urged the United States to arrest, former South Sudan army chiefs, General Paul Malong and General Gabriel Jok Riak who have been described by the group as war criminals.

The Sentry, a subsidiary of the Enough Project detailed in a report seen by Sudans Post how South Sudan army generals have been involved in killings and looting of the country’s resources.

The report said some of those generals started off as privates in the early 1980s, during the outbreak of the 21-year civil war. With time and experience, they climbed the military power ladder, making them household names.

They include Oyay Deng Ajak, Gabriel Jok Riak, James Hoth Mai, and Paul Malong – each of whom held the position of South Sudan army chief of staff between 2005 and May 2020.

Others are Salva Mathok, Marial Chanuong, Johnson Juma Okot (current CDF), Bol Akot, Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang, Johnson Olony, Garang Mabil, and David Yau Yau.

Despite the little pay in the army, the leaders – according to a report by an anti-corruption campaign group – have illegally amassed wealth over the years.

The investigative report by The Sentry suggests that the military big names have been using the conflict to get rich, as they encouraged starving soldiers to choose patriotism over salary.

Making a Killing: South Sudanese Military Leaders’ Wealth, Explained, looks at the commercial and financial activities of the aforementioned leaders who linked to major instances of violence both before and during the civil war.

“Documents reviewed by The Sentry indicate that they exploited their positions of power to empty the state’s coffers and weaken its institutions with little accountability for this corruption or for the human rights violations they perpetrated,” partly reads the report issued on May 27, 2020.

Being politically exposed persons or PEPs (the laws of the land do not allow constitutional post holders to run personal businesses), the leaders use close allies and children, including minors to run business activities.

“Many of these men share personal or commercial ties with President Salva Kiir, who regularly intervenes in legal proceedings targeting his staunchest friends and allies,” it continues.

Kiir himself has been named in several reports as one of the leaders who have stolen millions of dollars from public coffers.

He reportedly uses his family members and friends to run multi-billion dollar businesses in and out of the country.

The report found that lack of oversight and limited transparency in the security sector help the men to steal from public coffers.

Sudanese banks overcrowd as banks briefly reopen for only 3 days

Photo: Sudanese banks users seen lining up in queue

Photo: Sudanese banks users seen lining up in queue

KHARTOUM — During the past three days, Sudanese banks in Khartoum and a number of state capitals witnessed severe overcrowding.

Following the Central Bank of Sudan’s decision to re-open the banks for three days ending on Thursday because of the Eid El Fitir, the feast marking the end of Ramadan, this weekend.

Customers crowded the Sudanese banks since the early morning hours, activists reported.

Bankers attributed the overcrowding to the Eid El Fitir and the payment of the salary increases of April and the salaries of May. Yet, the main cause is the daily cash withdrawal ceiling from ATMs that was reduced to SDG 2,000.

The activists warned against the crowding in the Sudanese banks and customers not taking into account the social distancing because of Covid-19.

The banks should regularly feed the ATMs, they said. The Central Bank of Sudan should return the daily withdrawal ceiling to SDG 5,000.

Earlier this month, the daily withdrawal maximum of SDG 5,000 was reduced to SDG 2,000. This led to long queues in front of ATMs, government employees in Omdurman told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday.

USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of publishing this article. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).

Luxurious Juba hotel to expel SPLM-IO officials over $4 million unpaid bill

File: SPLM-IO leader and First Vice-President designate Dr. Riek Machar Teny

File: SPLM-IO leader and First Vice-President designate Dr. Riek Machar Teny

JUBA – A hotel in Juba has threatened to dislodge members of the main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO over an unpaid $4 million bill, officials said from the South Sudan capital said on Wednesday.

“We have been told to empty and leave out our hotel rooms in 24 hours by the Pyramid Hotel management because they have not been paid by the movement since a few months back,” a senior official of the SPLM-IO told Sudans Post from Juba.

“They said they we owe the around four millions American dollars and will not let us stay for even a minute after the end of the 24 hours,” the official said.

The latest threat against the SPLM-IO is not the first of its kind. Early this year, the same hotel kicked out opposition members over unpaid bills saying the government had not paid the hotel for the guests who have been housed and fed by the hotel.

Later on, the matter was resolved after the government paid half of the bill and promised to pay the rest.

The boy who beat malnutrition in South Sudan

A Sudanese boy smiles. EU humanitarian funding will provide food and nutritional assistance in Sudan, a country where 1 in 6 children suffer from acute malnutrition. © ICRC

JUBA – ‘When I grow up, I want to work for Tearfund! They took care of me when I was sick,’ says four-year-old Bul from Twic East in South Sudan. This is his dream after surviving a serious case of malnutrition.

Bul was born during a time of conflicts, poverty and hunger in a nation that’s barely nine years old itself. He’s being raised by his great aunt, Monica.

‘His parents have five other children and can not provide for all of them, so they sent me Bul when he was one year old,’ explains Monica. ‘I don’t have much, but my own children are older, so I took Bul and tried my best to provide for him.’

Monica bakes and sells bread to make ends meet, but after heavy rains and flooding in 2019 her business has struggled. The floods damaged many roads so she couldn’t get the supplies she needed for her bread.

That’s when Bul became sick.

‘With no money, it was very difficult to provide nutrients for a small child. He refused to eat and was always crying,’ recalls Monica. ‘When I took him to the health clinic, they discovered he had severe malnutrition and he was admitted to the feeding centre.’

GETTING BETTER

Bul was given medicine and therapeutic food for a week. Monica was given more supplements for him and he returned to the centre for monitoring every week, for six weeks, until he recovered.

‘We praise God that he is healed,’ says Monica.

A lack of enough nutritious food is the main cause of malnutrition. The effects of conflict and the climate crisis are preventing communities from investing in agriculture. It means less food is produced and people rely more on imports from neighbouring countries, which can be expensive.

Children bear the brunt of this harsh reality. In South Sudan, infant mortality is very high. Many children don’t reach their fifth birthday and malnutrition is the cause of more than a third of children’s deaths.

At our feeding centres, Tearfund is helping children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women to prevent and fight malnutrition. We provide nutrition education, support, and food items such as Plumpy Nut (a peanut paste). The programme also includes hygiene and sanitation education, as well as support to help prevent infections and other diseases.

CORONAVIRUS CONSIDERATIONS

Despite social distancing measures introduced in South Sudan due to the threat of a major coronavirus outbreak, the feeding centres continue to save the lives of many children like Bul.

‘If you try to shake hands, most people will tell you “No, we cannot shake hands because there is an outbreak”,’ says Anthony Rama, Tearfund’s Country Director for South Sudan.

‘In all our nutrition centres, there are posters with instructions on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. There are also hand washing facilities and, for mothers and children who come for screening, they now have to keep a distance of one metre apart.’

‘The number of COVID-19 cases in South Sudan is increasing and this is a worry for us as we have limited healthcare infrastructure. We ask for prayers that the Lord will bring healing to the affected and for an end to the spread [of coronavirus] by providing the skills and resources needed,’ says Anthony.

FUTURE DREAMS

Monica hopes God will continue to protect Bul and her family, and bring peace to South Sudan so she can develop her business.

‘The floods damaged a lot of things. People lost their crops, and there were a lot of diseases so many people died. The climate has been hard on us – first it was the drought, then it’s floods… but when there is peace, you can move around and earn a good living.’

PLEASE PRAY

  • Pray for Bul and other children in South Sudan to have a happy and healthy future.
  • Lift up Monica, Bul’s great aunt, and all parents and guardians who are concerned about providing for their children in such challenging circumstances.
  • As South Sudan continues to live in the midst of conflict and the climate crisis, pray for lasting peace and protection from extreme and unpredictable weather.

NOTE: This article was first published on the tearfund

Juba hotel expels opposition members of NPTC over unpaid bill

File: Panorama Hotel

JUBA – A Juba 4-star hotel has requested the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) tasked with the oversight of the pre-transitional period to evacuate its 38 rooms as the government failed to pay their accommodation bill for one year.

In a letter sent to the NPTC head Tut Gatluak Manime who is also a close aide to President Salva Kiir on 21 April, the Palm Africa Hotel management said the government did not honour the nearly $2 million bill of the 38 Committee’s guests despite their repeated demands.

“The outstanding hotel accommodation bill of 38 NPTC members for 12 months now amounts to USD 1,999,580 (one million nine hundred ninety-nine thousand five hundred eighty USD), covering the period till April 21, 2020,” said the letter, seen by Sudan Tribune.

The hotel’s management pointed out they are no longer in a position to sustain the 38 NPTC guests due to low business volume and the poor condition of rooms.

“Therefore, we request the 32 guests reallocated to another destination by the 30th April 2020. We can only be able to accommodate 6 (Six) rooms only due to their critical duties to the government”.

Another hotel in Juba, Crown Hotel, had a similar experience with the NPTC last year.

In a June 29, 2019 notice to the government, Crown Hotel management threatened to close the rooms of the NPTC delegates if bills were not paid.

South Sudanese government had to extend the pre-transitional period for nearly a year because it failed to ensure the needed money to implement the security arrangements and to resolve the number of states issue.

South Sudan: Kiir’s family linked to corruption in a new report

File: South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit

WASHINGTON — At a time when South Sudan’s government most needs to generate resources for urgent public health-related challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, one of its promising revenue streams is beset by mismanagement and corruption.

The Sentry’s latest investigative report reveals how South Sudan’s promising gold-dominated minerals sector is riddled with corruption involving President Salva Kiir’s relatives and inner circle, military leaders, and other high-level officials.

Published today, the report further exposes illegal mining now underway in Eastern Equatoria state, where the governor has ties to numerous mining businesses, as well as the Ministry of Defense’s involvement in problematic mining licensing deals.

“Untapped and Unprepared: Dirty Deals Threaten South Sudan’s Mining Sector” warns that, without strong reforms, abuse in the minerals sector could spur the same kind of resource-driven violence that plagued the petroleum industry throughout civil wars fought on South Sudanese soil dating back to the 1980s.

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “Through close relatives and allied government officials, President Salva Kiir is linked to dozens of mining companies in South Sudan.

The president’s core network has used its control of the minerals sector to consolidate its grip on South Sudan’s state revenues and natural resources.

If South Sudan’s people are to benefit from the country’s mineral wealth, including lifesaving healthcare urgently needed in the face of a global pandemic, financial institutions should take immediate steps to identify and monitor the bank accounts of those in power, their business networks, families, and inner circles.”

The Sentry further established that Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals.

The government has yet to disclose crucial information about their ownership structures, activities, or open applications for licenses, undermining public scrutiny of a sector already at heightened risk for corruption and raising questions about who benefits from South Sudan’s mineral wealth.

Sophie Lombardo, Investigator for The Sentry, said: “Without swift action, South Sudan’s mining sector may fall into the same traps as the oil sector, which has helped drive war in South Sudan for decades. Military interests abound, either through joint ventures with private investors or companies controlled by the Ministry of Defense.

The Sentry’s investigative findings reveal opaque and questionable deals that raise significant concerns about secret off-budget revenues within an institution marred by a history of abuse.”

J.R. Mailey, Investigations Director at The Sentry, said: “Today, widespread corruption, mismanagement, and poor oversight in the mining sector are intertwined in a vicious cycle. Individuals linked to criminal activities have received numerous mining licenses, as have companies with little technical or financial capacity, raising serious questions about how licenses are granted.

The mineral sector in South Sudan is still in its early development stage, however, so the implementation of critical reforms can deliver enormous benefits for the future of the country. Policy action is needed now, such as the creation of a regularly updated public online register disclosing the beneficial ownership of mining sector businesses.”

Report highlights:

Although South Sudan took welcome steps to reform the mining sector in 2012, some government officials, their relatives, and their close associates have fostered a weak regulatory environment susceptible to exploitation.

Memoranda and articles of incorporation reviewed by The Sentry reveal that politically exposed persons–both President Salva Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers–have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals.

Kiir’s daughter partly owns a company with three active mining licenses. A company with three mining licenses lists former Vice President James Wani Igga’s son as a shareholder.

Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, a businessman commonly known as Al-Cardinal who was placed under Global Magnitsky sanctions in October 2019, reportedly owns the company currently holding the most mining licenses. In the gold-rich region of Kapoeta, state government officials have issued licenses independently of the central government, a probable violation of South Sudan’s Mining Act that has allowed illegal mining to take place on land previously allocated by Juba to other companies.

South Sudan’s military has developed problematic mining interests in an effort to address budgetary shortfalls.

Key recommendations from the report:

South Sudan government:

Create a public register disclosing beneficial ownership. Key company ownership information remains inaccessible to the public. A regularly updated public online register would promote good governance and serve as a vital accountability tool for anti-corruption advocates, civil society, and political parties. Moreover, such a move would encourage legitimate investment and demonstrate the government’s commitment to building a more transparent system.

Conduct a retroactive audit of the mining sector. Numerous red flags in South Sudan’s mining sector highlight the country’s susceptibility to state capture. In order to assess the effectiveness of the process of awarding licenses to technically competent, legitimate enterprises, the Ministry of Mining should hire an independent external party to retroactively audit all mining companies currently operating in South Sudan.

The ministry should further investigate the beneficial owners of mining companies and determine whether politically exposed persons have unfairly profited. As an example, independent audits have been required prior to resuming certified exports following the moratorium implemented as part of the government-led Kimberley Process initiative to clean up the diamond trade.

United States government:

Issue responsible investment reporting requirements. The US Department of State should encourage responsible engagement in South Sudan’s mining sector by implementing investment reporting requirements for US persons. Much as it did in Myanmar, the agency should require companies to file publicly available reports detailing their due diligence, community engagement, human rights, anti-corruption, and environmental efforts within their operations and policies.

Issue a public advisory listing typologies and enhanced due diligence measures. Building upon the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)’s two anti-money laundering (AML) advisories referencing political corruption in South Sudan, the United States should consider issuing an update or a separate advisory sharing with financial institutions the latest methods and trends used to launder the proceeds of illegal mining and the extractives industry.

Expand US sanctions authorities. South Sudan’s conflict dynamics have evolved significantly since then-US President Barack Obama issued EO 13664 in 2014. The US president should issue a new executive order, or amend EO 13664, to provide additional authorities for targeting illicit financial activity.

Update sanctions designation criteria to include family members. The current order should be amended to permit the designation of individuals who are the spouses or dependent children of (i) any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to EO 13664 or (ii) any South Sudanese person blocked pursuant to EO 13818.

Target captured business sectors. A new executive order should limit or prohibit US persons from conducting business with foreign persons who are active in key sectors of South Sudan’s economy that are captured by regime elites, including the mining and oil industries. Business prohibitions or requirements to report publicly on due diligence measures could emanate from this effort.

United Kingdom and European governments:

Issue a public anti-money laundering advisory to financial institutions warning about the extractives industry’s corruption risks. The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and relevant national authorities across continental Europe should issue public AML alerts or advisories on corruption in the extractives sector, citing the risks of laundering the proceeds of corruption in oil, gold, and other natural resource sectors requiring licenses.

In order to assist financial institutions in updating their customer due diligence and ongoing monitoring frameworks, an advisory should include typologies and red flags identifying methods that bad actors could use to siphon illicit funds out of South Sudan. These advisories would complement the alert issued by the NCA in February 2020 on illicit money flows related to South Sudanese political corruption.

Sudan: Economy collapses as dollar reaches 100 SDG for the first time

A man counts U.S dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo, Egypt, March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

KHARTOUM – The Sudanese pound recorded on Monday evening – January 20, 2020 –  in the parallel (or black) market its lowest level against the US dollar in Sudan, and analysts said it will continued to decline during the next few months compared to a relative stability in the months before.

On Monday evening, businessmen and dealers in the money market, said the currency rate for 1 USD jumped to 100.00 Sudanese pounds for the first time in Sudan’s history.

They said 1 dollar was traded at 75 pounds during the late era of ousted president Omar al-Bashir reached and foreign exchange rates fell against the pound after the success of the Sudanese change revolution only to rise again in few months and exceeded the previous levels of cash handling.

Sudan has been suffering since the separation of South Sudan in 2011 from a scarcity of foreign exchange, for losing three quarters of its oil resources, in addition to supporting energy, bread and electricity materials that cost the public treasury billions of pounds, according to Minister of Finance Dr. Al-Badawi, who calls for the liberalization of gasoline and gasoline prices gradually to stop inflation inherited from the defunct regime.

Huge explosion at South Sudan oil facility

File: Explosion at South Sudan oil facility

JUBA/PARIANG – There is a huge oil facility explosion in South Sudan and residents are calling for the shutting down of an oil facility in Ruweng state of Pariang County.

A legislator representing Ruweng at the Council of States has called for the shutting down of Athiony oil facility following an explosion in Aliny County yesterday.

Production in the area is reportedly managed by Greater Pioneer Operating Company, GPOC.

Environmentalists have expressed fears over the impact of the pollution caused by the explosion on the local population.

It is still not clear what caused the explosion and the extent of the damage.

Hon. Mary Ayen Majok suggests that, if GPOC is unable to contain pollution and such explosions, the government should halt production in the area.

“We need to make a wise and bold decision that is better to suspend the operation until we put things in order,” Hon. Ayen told Eye Radio on Tuesday.

Similar fire incident caused an explosion near an airstrip in the Unity oil field last month.

Oil spillage remains a great concern to the inhabitants around oil wells.

Both local and international campaign groups have reported widespread environmental pollution in oil-producing areas, with animals and people affected.

They say women are giving birth to deformed babies and stillbirths, claims the local people have confirmed.

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