The African Union (AU) has sanctioned South Sudan after the government failed to pay its overdue membership fees worth over $9 million. Last week, delegates from the country could not access an AU meeting due to the unpaid fees.
A letter to the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry dated June 17 revealed that South Sudan has not paid its annual membership fees for three consecutive years.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Hakim Edward confirmed the sanctions. While the sanctions bar delegates from attending AU meetings, sanctioned nations still maintain their AU membership.
Deng Dau Deng, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, blamed COVID-19 for the delay in payments. In an interview with VOA, the Minister revealed that the state paid 40% of their contribution and membership fee.
South Sudan was due to pay a commitment, of which from December to January, we paid 40 percent of our contribution and membership [fee] to the African Union. We are committed as a country to pay our contribution, but the current situation delayed our payment.Minister Deng Dau Deng
Further, the Minister pledged that the country would pay the dues as soon as the current situation normalizes.
South Sudan is Missing out on Strategic Decisions.
Nevertheless, experts in the country believe that the nation should pay up its dues sooner to avoid missing out on the AU’s critical strategic decisions. Nhial Tit Mammer, a Policy Analyst with the Sudd Institute said the country should avoid using the civil war and the pandemic as an avenue to avoid paying dues.
“…if South Sudan is not going to participate in those meetings where important decisions are going to be made, then it’s a huge problem. And it also has implications on our pride as a nation,” Mammer said.
South Sudan is healing from over five years of civil war.