Graft: S Sudan ministers suspended
19 June 2013, 16:09
Juba - South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has suspended two
of his most senior and influential ministers to launch investigations into an
alleged multi-million dollar corruption scandal, official documents published
The presidential order has lifted the immunity of Minister
of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor and Minister of Finance Kosti Manibe, powerful
leaders of the young nation.
Both face questioning by a special investigation committee
"into the alleged un-procedural transfer" of some $8m to a company
called Daffy Investment Group.
The money was allegedly transferred to buy special anti-fire
safes for government offices, but it is not clear if any of the safes have
Oil-rich but war-ravaged South Sudan, which gained formal
independence from Sudan in July 2011, is one of the poorest countries on earth.
It was left in ruins after five decades of conflict between
southern rebels and successive governments in Sudan, with South Sudan now
struggling with some of the worst development indicators of any nation on
Both Alor and Manibe "shall cease their functions from
the coming into force of this order," the order added.
Last year Kiir wrote to 75 past and present officials
demanding they return $4bn of public money they were accused of pocketing in
private bank accounts.
Letters were also sent to heads of states in regional
nations as well as in Europe, the Middle East and the United States asking for
support to return the cash.
Much of the stolen funds were part of the "dura"
scandal, when large-scale government orders were made for sorghum grain which
allegedly never arrived.
Kiir's move to investigate top officials and claw back
stolen cash comes as the young nation's economy struggles following stalled oil
flows through former civil war foe Sudan to the north, with the oil formerly
making up almost the entire government budget.
It also follows efforts by Kiir to rein in his top
officials, and follows orders in April to clip the powers of his
vice-president, Riek Machar.
Alor, from the flashpoint Abyei region claimed by Sudan and
South Sudan, is from the powerful Dinka Ngok ethnic group and served alongside
Kiir when he was still a rebel leader.
Alor also served as foreign minister of a united Sudan
before the South broke away from the North and is one of the most senior
figures in government.
Manibe hails from the Zande group in Western Equatoria.
Anti-corruption commission chief John Gatwich will head the
investigation, which has 60 days to submit its findings to Kiir, the order
If fraud is found by the committee, criminal charges and
prosecution will follow, the order said.