Sudan diplomats unpaid for months: minister

(iStock)
(iStock)

A cash shortfall has seen several Sudanese foreign diplomats go unpaid for months and they have been seeking to return home as a result, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said on Wednesday.

In a speech to lawmakers, Ghandour said his ministry had also been unable to pay the rent for several diplomatic missions across the world for the same reason.

"For months Sudanese diplomats have not received salaries and there is also a delay in paying rent for diplomatic missions," Ghandour said, without specifying which ones.

Sudan has been facing financial difficulties amid an acute shortage of hard foreign currency that has seen the east African country's economic crisis worsen.

Ghandour said he himself had been in touch with the governor of the country's central bank but has failed to secure funds to pay the diplomats.

"The situation has now turned dangerous, which is why I am talking about it publicly," he said.

Ghandour said there was a feeling among some government officials that paying wages to diplomats and rent for diplomatic missions were not a priority.

"Some ambassadors and diplomats want to return to Khartoum now... because of the difficulties faced by them and their families," he said.

When asked by reporters for more details after his speech, Ghandour said the wages of diplomats and rents of missions amounted to about $30 million annually, while the ministry's total annual budget was about $69 million.

Sudan has been hit hard by an acute shortage of foreign currency that has seen the pound plunging against the dollar, forcing the central bank to devalue it two times since January.

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Expectations of a quick economic revival were high in the aftermath of October 12 when Washington lifted its decades-old sanctions imposed on Khartoum.

But officials say the situation has not changed at all as international banks continue to be wary of doing business with Sudanese banks.

The country's overall economy had been hit particularly hard after the south separated from the north in 2011, taking with it about 75% of oil earnings.

A surging inflation rate of about 56 percent, regular fuel shortages and rising prices of food items have often triggered sporadic anti-government protests in Khartoum and some other towns.

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