AU Sanctions South Sudan Over $9M Membership Debt

The African Union (AU) has suspended South Sudan from the continental body over failure to honor its financial obligations over the past three years.

A letter from the country’s mission in Ethiopia to the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the development, saying the amount in question came up to over $9 million, Africanews reported on June 21. The Xinhua News Agency said the Ministry had confirmed the suspension from the Addis Ababa-based body.

In clarifying the extent of the suspension, Hakim Edward, spokesperson for the deputy of foreign affairs, said Juba’s AU membership, attained in July 2011, remained intact except that the country cannot participate in AU meetings.

“We would like to confirm to the public that South Sudan is one of the countries that have been sanctioned by the AU due to lack of yearly financial contributions,” Edward said in a statement late last week.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to assure the public that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Finance to resolve the matter not only with the AU but with other regional bodies,” he added.

Local news outlet Eye Radio also reported that South Sudan has a lot of unpaid arrears to regional, international and global bodies to which it subscribes. The country is also yet to clear its arrears to the East African Community to which it owes about $24 million.

South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, joined the African Union later that month, becoming the 54th member.

A year ago, the AU’s Peace and Security Council voted to suspend neighboring Sudan from all AU activities until a civilian government has been formed. The decision followed violent military action against pro-democracy activists who helped topple the government of Omar Al-Bashir.

The council made the announcement after a meeting in Addis Ababa of the member states of the pan-continental body. The country’s membership was restored after the ruling military council and opposition groups agreed to share power in a transition to democracy.

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