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13 Jul 2017

Drama As President Sacks 12 Judges Over Strike

South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has sacked 12 judges, who had been on strike over poor pay and living conditions since May 2, officials said on Thursday.

The world’s youngest country plunged into civil war in 2013 just two years after gaining independence after Kiir fired his deputy, triggering a conflict fought largely along ethnic lines.

The conflict has slashed oil revenues and paralysed agriculture.

Civil servants and soldiers go unpaid for months and hyperinflation renders money almost worthless.

On Wednesday evening, Kiir issued a decree that dismissed a group of 12 judges, who went on strike in a bid to force reform in the judicial system, Deputy Information Minister, Akol Kordit, said.

“These judges, who were supposed to deliver justice obstructed justice themselves. They denied our people justice for reasons that could be resolved through administrative channels,” he said.

The group comprised appeals court judges, who demanded that the chief justice resigned on grounds that he obstructed the judicial system, as well as more judges he appointed and promoted.

“These were the demands we put forward. Now the complainers have been sacked,” said Guri Raymondo, a spokesman for the judges’ union.

“We will sit down and hear from the general assembly what is the next step,” he said.

Junior judges receive a salary of 4,000 South Sudan pounds (25 dollars) a month in the country of 12 million people, where a kilo of rice costs 130 pounds.

There are 150 pounds to the dollar on the black market.

South Sudan had only 274 judges on its payroll in its last budget, some of whom have since resigned.

War in the country has forced more than a quarter of its entire population to flee their homes and plunged parts of it into famine, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

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