South Sudan’s embassy in Italy has been closed following the government’s sustained failure to pay rental arrears, with diplomats not being paid for nearly 10 months, a top South Sudanese diplomat said.
The diplomat, who preferred anonymity, told Radio Tamazuj that activities at the South Sudanese embassy in Rome have collapsed over the inadequate funding of the office by the government.
He pointed out that the government could not pay four months’ rent arrears and that the diplomatic staffs at the embassy have gone unpaid for nearly 10 months.
South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted that it is struggling to pay its diplomats abroad as the country’s dire economic situation worsens and inflation soars.
The ministry’s official spokesman Mawien Makol Ariik told Radio Tamazuj that the government is still trying to figure out solutions to the problem soon.
“We were supposed to pay the arrears and the embassy was under legal notice for eviction but we have sent some money,” he said.
“Peace is coming and I think there will be a solution when there is peace,” he added.
South Sudan has been experiencing serious economic challenges, which are mostly attributed to the ongoing civil war that has disrupted oil production.
Embassy in Ethiopia sued over $120,000 in rent arrears
South Sudanese embassy in Ethiopia had been taken to court over rental arrears after the government failed to pay.
John Sefo, the landlord who rented his building to South Sudan embassy in Addis Ababa, told Radio Tamazuj that he has sued the South Sudanese embassy over rent arrears of $120,000.
“I did not get my money for 10 months now, so I call several times and I go personally to the ambassador, but they say wait. The issue is out of my control,” he said.
The landlord, who is an Ethiopian national, said that he took the embassy to court for breach of contract on the payment of rentals over the last two weeks.” I need money. When I am paid, I will immediately drop the court case,” he said.
“I have been cooperating with the embassy, but I don’t get positive feedback from the embassy,” he added.
South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has not yet received any official letter from its embassy in Addis Ababa about the matter.
The ministry’s official spokesman Mawien Makol Ariik told Radio Tamazuj that the government had asked the landlord to wait for sometimes due to worsening economic situation in South Sudan.
“We will talk to the embassy about the issue and see what to be done. We want to cooperate with the landlord,” he said.