South Sudan is pleading with Kenya and Uganda for economic support to avert a humanitarian crisis after a fresh conflict brought the country to its knees.
Last week, a delegation of Transitional Government of South Sudan officials led by First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai was in Kenya on a mission seeking a bailout.
Africa Review reported that Juba will also be reaching out to Uganda later this month to craft a bailout package that will see Kampala pay its traders the $35.2 million Juba owes them in a bid to have them resume supplies to the country.
“The vice president will go to Kampala to request the Ugandan government to pay traders who supplied cereals to Juba but haven’t been paid. The money will then be converted into a loan, for which Juba and Kampala officials will work out a repayment plan,” a diplomatic source with the knowledge of the matter said.
The delegation to Nairobi, which included four ministers, met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed and a number of government officials.
A source privy to the discussions said Mr Gai implored President Kenyatta to give his country a soft loan to help it deal with its current problems.
President Kenyatta is reported to have advised the group to send their finance minister, their Central Bank Governor and agriculture minister to Nairobi with a clear proposal, including the amounts needed and the modalities for repayment.
South Sudan relies on Kenyan traders for key supplies including food, edible oils, pharmaceuticals, electronic products and manufactured goods.
Uganda is South Sudan’s biggest trading partner and exports maize, vegetables, sugar, iron and steel, cement, beer, motor lubricants and detergents. However, following fresh fighting in the country in July, most foreign traders have returned to their countries for security reasons.
In an interview, South Sudan Finance minister Stephen Dhieu Dau declined to provide details on how the proposal would be structured.
“I am yet to get a briefing on the discussions in Nairobi and any other that will take place. However, we are pursuing fiscal, monetary and diplomatic routes in a bid to unlock the economic challenge the country is facing,” Mr Dau said.
The country is also yet to pass a new budget for the 2016/17 financial year.
Source: Africa Review