South Sudan lawmakers quit budget presentation over unpaid public salaries

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 South Sudan’s fragile government 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.

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“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.

Fighting broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rival Riek Machar in late 2013, less than three years after South Sudan declared independence from Sudan amid celebrations and promises of support from major world powers.

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

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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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BudgetSouth SudanSalva Kiir