South Sudan judges end strike, demand sacking of chief justice

President Kiir of South Sudan

South Sudan’s judges on Friday ended their five-month strike that paralysed the judiciary, while insisting on the chief justice’s sacking.

Arop Malueth, the Secretary, Steering Committee of Judges and Justices, said that they met President Salva Kiir and had promised to address their outstanding grievances.

“We have decided to go back to work, we met the president on Thursday, who promised to address our grievances,” Malueth said.

He added that they were still demanding the sacking of the Chief Justice, Chan Reec Madut, a close confidant of the president.

He said that they blamed the chief justice for holding back key urgent reforms in the judiciary ranging from understaffing, congestion in court rooms, meager salaries and lack of transport.

The judges went on strike in early May, after public university lecturers and medical practitioners declared strike over poor remuneration and working conditions, exacerbated by the prevailing economic hardship due to decline of oil production, a main source of hard currency.

Malueth also revealed that the president agreed to reinstate some of their suspended colleagues to the bench.

The country depends on oil to finance 98 per cent of its fiscal budget, but the more than three years of violence has disrupted production, leading to hyper inflation amid high costs of living.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitied mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.