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Sudan President promises amnesty to corrupt officials on return of money
By Manishka Soorya
Growth in the hugely impoverished, new-born South Sudan is being weighed down tremendously due to rampant corruption. So great is its impact that the country’s President, Mr Salva Kiir Mayardit, has issued an extraordinary official appeal: return all stolen money, you will go scot-free.
With inflation touching a figure of 80% and an economy on its last legs, the Arab country desperately requires a major bail-out for its survival. This North African nation will be completing the first anniversary of its independence only next month but is rattled by enormous challenges already.
One among them is the all-pervasive corruption in the country. An estimated four billion dollars (U.S.) is the amount siphoned off by officials or those with close ties to government employees.
Finally, the President has been forced to intervene. Early this week, he has personally written to at least 75 present and former government employees to return the ‘stolen money’. Mr Mayardit has also given a personal assurance that no action will be taken against the corrupt.
“The officials who stole the money have deprived the country’s citizens of the much-needed heath care, education and other basic services,” the President has written. Almost pleading, South Sudan’s Head has appealed to return at least some portion of the money if not the full sum.
In fact, a separate bank account has been opened by the government in Kenya so that money can be deposited into this account.
It may be recalled that the annual report of the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor released last week accused South Sudan officials of continuing to "engage in corrupt practices with impunity."
The money is suspected to be stashed away in accounts abroad or invested in properties through cash payments. United States, Middle East and Europe and other parts of Africa are places where the stolen money is suspected to be hidden. The President has also written to eight Heads in these nations appealing to them to co-operate in recovering the country’s wealth.
Political unrest and secessionist movements apart, the huge number of public-fund thefts have played a vital role in reducing the nation to its present condition. This shocking state has been brought about despite the existence of a South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC). The body has been criticised for failing to implement stringent laws.
The SSACC recovered 60 million dollars (U.S.) last week from various officials. It is now reviewing the assets declaration forms submitted by 1,600 officials.
With the oil production industry, the country’s sole money-making industry,shut down recently, the government is now suffering a shocking 98% loss in revenue generated!
Only time will tell if the desperate appeal by the country’s head will resuscitate the infant nation.
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