Juba, South Sudan | AFP | Judges in South Sudan began a threatened strike demanding higher wages and the resignation of the chief justice this week, a senior judge told AFP on Wednesday.
The strike marks the failure of talks between judges and the government of President Salva Kiir who last month set up a committee to hear their grievances.
“Since no progress has been made, we have started our strike since yesterday and we are continuing until the chief justice has resigned from his office,” Geri Raymondo, a senior appeal court judge told AFP on Wednesday.
The judges’ demands include increased salaries and better working conditions as well as the resignation of chief justice Chan Reec Madut who they accuse of poor leadership.
The strike by the country’s 274 judges paralyses the over-stretched judiciary in South Sudan leaving courts nationwide unable to hear cases.
Raymondo said judges had suffered — like most in South Sudan — from the collapse of the national currency meaning that a junior judge’s monthly salary of 4,000 South Sudanese pounds is now worth just $25, down from $1,200 in 2013 before the outbreak of civil war.
Another senior judge, Khalid Mohamed Abdallah, said the strike was also aimed at rescuing the image of the judiciary, where low wages foster corruption.
“I am not accusing my colleagues but I think there is something like this happening, corruption, that is why we are trying to correct this situation as quickly as possible,” he said.
The strike comes as the economic situation continues to deteriorate in South Sudan with prices soaring in the oil-dependent country where years of conflict have disrupted crude production.
The civil war since December 2013 has killed tens of thousands, forced millions to flee their homes and created a famine that threatens the lives of more than 100,000 people.