South Sudan asks ex-ministers for $4bn to be returned

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has written to more than 75 former and current senior government officials asking them to return an estimated $4 billion in stolen funds to the country.

Corruption has plagued South Sudan’s government since the 2005 peace deal that ended more than 20 years of civil war with Sudan. In January, South Sudan’s auditor general reported that nearly $1.5bn in government funds were unaccounted for from the 2005-06 fiscal year.

“We fought for freedom, justice and equality,” the president’s letter reads. “Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people.”

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The president wrote that South Sudan’s citizens and the international community were “alarmed” by the levels of corruption and that “the credibility of our government is on the line.” He promised amnesty for officials who return stolen funds and to keep the identities of those officials confidential.

Despite South Sudan’s peaceful vote last year to break away from Sudan, tensions between the two remain, especially over what was once their shared oil industry. South Sudan this year shut down its oil industry after accusing Sudan of stealing its oil.

That decision has resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars for the government.

Oil revenue last year accounted for about 98 per cent of the government budget before the shutdown.

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