Peace talk politicians kicked out of hotels over $50m unpaid bill
Hundreds of South Sudanese officials have lived in luxurious establishments for years during failed negotiations
Hundreds of politicians and officials are being kicked out of hotels in South Sudan after running up massive bills while more than half of the country’s population depends on humanitarian aid.
Up to 300 representatives who have “lived in luxury” in Juba during peace talks are being ejected after “warnings to the government about mounting debts” totalling around $50m (£36.4m) “went ignored”, reports The Times.
Kot Maker, manager of the capital’s luxurious Royal Palace Hotel, told the paper how he had shut off power and water in a bid to force out guests who had lived there for three years without settling their accounts.
Maker said: “We have no gun. We have to pursue them, we have to talk to them politely, we have to convince them to leave peacefully, because if they refuse we have to call the police in.”
The ejected guests see things very differently. One described the hotel managers’ behaviour as “inhumane”, telling Voice of America: “We feel so bad that we have been thrown out at the end and nobody is taking care of us from now on.”
The row comes less than two months after humanitarian groups warned that South Sudan was facing a “catastrophic” conflict-fuelled famine. In a joint statement, UN agencies including the World Food Programme said that 6.5 million people were facing severe food insecurity, with that total projected to increase to 7.24 million by July - equivalent to more than 60% of the population.
As The Times reports, “South Sudan’s 11 million people have barely known peace since the country won independence from Sudan a decade ago”.
Corruption and mismanagement have triggered an economic crisis in the oil-rich state, while a five-year battle for power has caused about 400,000 deaths and displaced millions.
Members of the ruling party, a “string of opposition groups” and army generals have been “wrangling” at peace talks in Juba for years in a bid to find a resolution, The Australian says.
Although President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar, his former deputy-turned-bitter enemy, have reached a dozen peace agreements, none has delivered a permanent end to the fighting.