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Regional bloc suspends South Sudan's membership over failure to pay fees

South Sudan's Minister of Information and official government spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth speaks to the press before leaving Juba International Airport on January 2, 2014 headed for Addis Ababa. South Sudan's warring parties gathered in Ethiopia on January 2 for talks aimed at ending nearly three weeks of conflict, even as the army said its troops were trying to retake a key rebel-held town. Thousands of people are feared to have been killed in the fighting, pitting army units loyal to President Salva Kiir against a loose alliance of ethnic militia forces and mutinous army commanders nominally headed by ex-vice president Riek Machar. AFP PHOTO / CHARLES ATIKI (Photo credit should read CHARLES ATIKI/AFP via Getty Images)
South Sudan's Minister of Information and official government spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth speaks to the press before leaving Juba International Airport on January 2, 2014 [CHARLES ATIKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has suspended the membership of South Sudan after the African country failed to pay its annual contributions fee, Anadolu News Agency reports.

South Sudan's Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the suspension came after the country failed to remit the country's annual contribution to the regional bloc of eight African nations.

"We have exactly been suspended from IGAD simply because we have not paid our dues and there are so many vacancies, about 14 of them which are supposed to be our positions. We are unable to occupy them simply because we have not paid our dues for long," Lueth told reporters after a meeting of the Council of Ministers chaired by President Salva Kiir on Friday.

Lueth said that Foreign Minister, Mayiik Ayii Deng, gave a presentation to the Cabinet requesting the payment of all the dues.

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"After thorough deliberation, it was decided that the Minister of Foreign Affairs discuss all these with the new Minister of Finance so that they can find a way forward in order to pay all the outstanding arrears so that the government and people of South Sudan can benefit from these positions," he added.

Ter Manyang Gatwech, a civil society activist and executive director of the Centre for Peace and Advocacy (CPA), said that the suspension of membership will have a lot of implications.

"There are a lot of implications for the suspension of South Sudan from IGAD, South Sudan will not have the leverage to influence the member states of the IGAD in terms of decision-making processing when it comes to regional issues like peace and security which are the main thematic area of focus of the IGAD," he said.

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