South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, James Morgan, spoke with Fred Oluoch about the country’s recent suspension by African Union over $9m arrears.
What does suspension mean for South Sudan?
South Sudan will be deprived its right to take the floor or make any contributions in the meetings of the African Union until we clear the arrears. Member states that are sanctioned miss out on privileges of taking part in debates during sessions, or other privileges offered by the AU. The sanctions mean our president, the minister of foreign affairs and the permanent representative to the African Union can’t participate, contribute ideas or even talk during AU meetings and upcoming summits. But, our full membership remains. Our mission considers the sanctions of the country to be a national concern.
Why has South Sudan been defaulting even in East African Community?
The Department of Finance in the AU didn't give South Sudan a reminder, as you know the country is preoccupied with myriad priorities of implementing the revitalised peace deal, security arrangements involving the integration of former rebel fighters into the national army. So after the AU gave us notice of sanctions, the government in Juba swiftly directed the ministry of Finance to settle the bill without any delay. By end of next week all things will be settled.
Does lack of payment affect AU full participation in the South Sudan peace process?
No, these things should not be mixed up. A delay of payment doesn't mean we will not pay. It is not only South Sudan that has been sanctioned, many other member states are sanctioned too when their payments are not received on time. The AU does not sanction its participation in the South Sudan Peace process.
What mechanisms are in place to ensure the country is not put in such an embarrassing situation in future?
It is not an issue of embarrassment. Since the founding of the Organisation of African Unity to the current AU, sanctioning of member state is a continuous process for the AU to collect its funds for implementing its programmes.
There are those who say that admitting South Sudan into the regional bodies was premature. Comment?
We rightfully belong to EAC, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the AU. Every country experiences problems at one time or other so it is not unique to South Sudan. We are in East Africa and in the Greater Horn of Africa, which is why we are in Igad. We are in Africa that is why we are rightfully in the African Union.
Current: South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, member of the Igad Committee of Ambassadors.
2014 to 2016: Served as deputy Ambassador to Kenya.
2012: Served as deputy Head of Mission in New Delhi India.
2009 to 2011: Served as deputy Head of Mission in the Republic of Sudan in Jakarta, Indonesia.
2006: Joined the Ministry of foreign Affairs in Khartoum Sudan following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.