No Independence celebration in South Sudan, Salva Kiir 'apologises for failing to pay civil servants'

Tuesday 9th July marks eight years of South Sudan's independence from Sudan but there will be no big celebrations because of the tough economic situation in the country, independent Eye Radio reports quoting Information Minister Michael Makuei.

"There will be no celebration at the national level, but there will be a low-profile celebration at the presidency, because we don't want to lose money for doing celebrations as we used to do," Mr Makuei told Eye Radio.

Using a speech to mark Independence Day, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has apologised to civil servants who went without salaries for several months, Juba's Radio Miraya quotes him as saying.

Mr Kiir said the failure to pay the money was "caused by weak governance" in the departments that are supposed to raise funds and pledged to personally get involved in the issue.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after a decades-long civil war. But fighting that began in 2013 has thrown the country into turmoil and severely dented economic development.

A peace deal has been agreed but has not yet been implemented.

Last month, the finance minister was unable to present the annual budget because MPs walked out over the salary issue, Reuters news agency reported at the time.

Today, almost seven million people, more than half the population, are facing acute levels of conflict-related hunger with 860,000 children likely to suffer from malnutrition according to the Norwegian refugee council.