The world’s newest country, South Sudan has announced that it will not be celebrating her independence because of lack of funds. The young nation has been embroiled in series of conflicts threatening to bring her to her knees.
The Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said:
“We decided not to celebrate the July 9 Independence Day, because we don’t want to spend that much money, We need to spend the little that we have on other issues.”
Lueth said that the cost of the celebrations would be at least 10 million Sudanese pounds which is more than $450,000.
“If we can get this amount of money, we would prefer to use it for resolving our problems in the economy, such as issues of payment of salaries and so forth.”
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, after a bloody civil war with Sudan’s ethnically Arab north that had lasted decades. In a referendum that year, almost 99% of voters cast their votes for independence, and much of the international community swiftly recognized the fledgling nation.
This year, the second Saturday of July would have been the fifth anniversary of the country’s independence. However, while the country has celebrated in past years — even as it struggled with a new civil war post-independence, the financial burden of the celebrations was just too much this year.
South Sudan is blessed with natural resources but decades of infighting have left the people impoverished. For a nation with only 504 km of tarred roads, its no surprise priorities have to be reevaluated.
The World Bank has called the world’s newest country, the “most oil-dependent country in the world,” with over 90 percent of government spending financed by oil revenues. The country’s Central Bank has said that it has only enough foreign currency reserves to last a month.
After years of fighting that saw tens of thousands killed and over 2 million displaced, South Sudan’s government signed a peace deal with rebels last year. In April, rebel leader Riek Machar moved to the capital of Juba to work with President Salva Kiir to build unity within the country.
On Tuesday, a government official said that veteran politician Ali Tamim Fartak had formed a new Islamic fundamentalist group that had been fighting with government forces.