Juba — The speaker of South Sudan National Legislative Assembly (SSLNA), James Wani Igga has urged the ruling party's leadership to crack down on "criminals" implicated in the $4bn, which is said to have been stolen by both current and former government officials since 2005.
South Sudan's President, Salva Kiir, in May, wrote to 75 former and current officials asking them to account for the $4bn, which he said was either deposited in foreign bank accounts or used to purchase properties. The President also said a bank account was opened in Kenya purposely for repatriating these funds anonymously.
The President said that top members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) had forgotten what they had fought for by taking public funds. The matter has been made worse by South Sudan's dire economic situation. An oil transit fee dispute with Khartoum led to a halt of all exports, depriving the government of 98% of its revenue since January.
Speaking at the opening session of parliament on June 11 Igga said: "We did not go to the bush to loot our country of $4 billion. Certainly, much more practical and legal move needs to be done in this battle against the invisible person called maladministration alongside nepotism."
However, the SSNA speaker also briefed lawmakers of the political, economic and security challenges that engulfed the new nation during their 75 days of recess, describing it as a "difficult" phase.
South Sudan fought a brief border war with Sudan in April over the disputed oil region of Heglig/Panthou, which is one of many areas of contention along the tense, heavily militarised and poorly demarcated border.
The fighting was the nadir of relations since South Sudan seceded a year ago. Talks on post-independence issues have resumed in Addis Ababa on oil, citizenship, water, borders, security and contested areas.
Despite the hardships facing the new nation, Igga warned Sudan against incursions into South Sudan's territory, saying any provocation will compel South Sudan to retaliate in defense of its territorial integrity and citizens.
"Those who beat the drum of war without knowing how difficult, ruinous and devastative war should have now learnt nasty lessons," he remarked, adding that Khartoum's war propaganda following South Sudan's ten day occupation Heglig/Panthou as "absolutely uncalled for."
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir described South Sudan's ruling party as "insects" and said that the vultures of Heglig/Panthou had been well fed on the dead bodies of Southern soldiers.
Meanwhile, Igga lauded the country's lawmakers for their role in informing citizens about the Heglig/Panthou conflict and the air bombardment of South Sudan. Khartoum denies bombing its neighbour but it has been criticised for doing so by the United Nations.
A UN Security Council resolution on May 2 ordered both nations to return to talks and stop all aggression, including bombing and backing each others rebel groups. The two-sides were ordered to resolve all issues within three months.
Booth countries have launched nationwide mobilisation campaigns to recruit for and garner financial and moral support to the military.
Igga said that public mobilisation in South Sudan had been a successful enactment of 22 Bills; 18 of which have been ascended to the president, respect for the rule of law exhibited by lawmakers and capacity building as some of the achievements made by SSNA since South Sudan attained independence in July last year.
During the assembly opening, a coalition of civil society activists petitioned South Sudan's President Kiir to openly declare the list of the 75 current and former officials being asked to account for the nearly $4bn lost by the country.
The civil society alliance, in a petition extended to Sudan Tribune, said they duly support President Kiir's decision to notify those suspected of corruption, urging him to desist from exercising leniency and instead ask the ministries of justice, interior and South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) to investigate and prosecute those found guilty of corruption.
No official has been prosecuted for corruption since the SPLM came to power in 2005, despite an estimated $4bn going missing.
"We also urge the Parliament and Council of states members to support the efforts of the president on corruption and strengthen war on corruption," the civil society petition partly reads.
Only two former ministers have notified the public about receiving the president's letter. These include, Awut Deng Acuil, the former labour and public service minister and Lual Achuek, the ex-petroleum minister in the Khartoum-based national assembly.
The two have maintained their innocence and vowed to provide full accountability for the funds allegedly misappropriated during their tenure.
President Kiir, while addressing the second session of the assembly, reiterated his government's commitment to improve accountability and transparency in the country. Part of the process, he said, was the move to install an electronically managed payment system in all the finance ministries within the 10 states of South Sudan.