South Sudan lawmakers quit budget presentation over unpaid public salaries

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South Sudanese lawmakers stormed out of a budget presentation for the 2019/20 financial year by the finance minister on Thursday, with one citing frustrations over non-payment of salaries of civil servants and soldiers.

The disruption highlights issues affecting South Sudan months after the latest peace deal was signed to end a civil war, often fought along ethnic lines and that has crippled oil production, forced millions to flee and killed 400,000 people.

“Our army is cutting down trees to make a living, our foreign missions … it is now almost one year we are unable to pay them. Our teachers are not being paid. What are we doing? We are now presenting a new budget while our salaries are not being paid,” one lawmaker shouted.

Parliament Speaker Anthony Lino adjourned the parliament sitting.

“The concerns that you have raised, I have heard them but I don’t like the way you make them. We are going to adjourn and call the house at a time we are going to announce,” he said.

A peace agreement signed last September, the latest in a series of others reached since 2013, is largely holding.

In May, South Sudan’s ruling and opposition parties agreed to give themselves six more months to form a unity government as part of the peace deal.

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