South Sudan risks AU, EAC expulsions

South Sudan risks AU, EAC expulsions
Michael Makuei, Minister of information (photo: courtesy)

The Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei has revealed that South Sudan risks losing membership in the regional and international bodies over pending payment of its contribution to the organizations.

Makuei revealed this to reporters on Friday in a regular briefing after the Council of Ministers’ meeting.

Juba has fought off accusations of failing to pay the membership obligation fees to regional and international blocs it subscribes to in the past months. 

In a letter addressed to South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 2020, African Union sanctioned the country after it failed to pay annual membership fees for the past three years and participants from South Sudan were also stopped from engaging in the AU meetings.

Similar trouble played out in January this year when the United Nations listed South Sudan among defaulting members that had not paid contributions since 2019. The other countries listed were Zimbabwe, Somalia, Iran, Libya, and five other countries.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed a letter to South Sudan stating that the country owed the union $22,804 in arrears.

Back home, the country also owes the East African Community block over $30 million in form of accumulated membership fees since it joined the block in 2016, a member of parliament representing South Sudan to the EALA revealed last month.

In addition, Mr. Makuei revealed that the financial problems run deeper as some of the country’s embassies are in crisis and some have been closed. 

Quick responses

However, he exuded confidence that the Council of Ministers has approved over $100 million to the ministry of foreign affairs to clear the arrears of its foreign missions and has directed the ministry of finance to pay the money accordingly.

“We are also losing membership in some of the organizations be regional or international simply because we have not been paying our fees and as such, the minister made the presentation to the cabinet requesting that at least a sum of over $100m should be approved to meet all the outstanding arrears to be paid so that we are respected internationally and the cabinet has approved the amount,” said Makuei. 

In 2018, South Sudan’s embassy in London was closed because of failing to pay rent. In 2017, the country’s embassy in Italy was closed over rental arrears when it was placed under legal notice for eviction according to one of the embassy’s officials.

Again in the same year, the country’s embassy in Ethiopia was sued over $120,000 for rental arrears by John Sefo, the landlord who rented his building to the South Sudan embassy in Addis Ababa.

Fighting floods

In addition, Makuei said the cabinet has also approved an additional $10 million for flood-affected people across the country.

He stressed that the approved budget would be used by the ministry of humanitarian affairs to supply emergency aid to the people affected by the floods.

“Of course people who are displaced are very much more affected by the floods [and] for that matter after the flood has subsided, they need to be resettled and rehabilitated because they do not have anything at present and all that they need is to be rescued now so this budget was approved,” he added.

He further revealed that the minister in charge, Peter Mayen, was directed by the cabinet to closely monitor the flood situation in all the areas affected.

Severe floods have affected over 630,000 people in 27 counties across the South according to the recent report by the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Coordination UN OHCA since May this year.

 “They presented the report in three phases; that [means] they have three phases in which they will implement the emergencies. Phase one is emergency at the beginning, they need to supply emergency equipment to the people who are affected by the floods, post-flooding intervention, and then phase three is the restoration of livelihood,” he explained.

This year, Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Upper Nile are the worst affected states with a high proportion of the people affected facing emergency food security.

Schools, homes, health facilities, and water sources were inundated, impacted people’s access to basic services the report said.

Most of the flood-affected people have moved to higher ground within their county and in other States such as Upper Nile and Central Equatoria State.

While humanitarian agencies warn of limited supplies and a funding shortfall by donors, Minister Makuei called on them to also intervene to rescue the situation of the flood-affected people in the country.