Sudan diplomats unpaid for months: minister

File photo showing Sudan's FM Ibrahim Ghandour. (AN photo)
Updated 18 April 2018
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Sudan diplomats unpaid for months: minister

KHARYOUM: A cash shortfall has seen several Sudanese foreign diplomats go unpaid for months and they have been seeking to return home as a result, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said Wednesday.
In a speech to lawmakers, Ghandour said his ministry had also been unable to pay the rent for several diplomatic missions across the world for the same reason.
“For months Sudanese diplomats have not received salaries and there is also a delay in paying rent for diplomatic missions,” Ghandour said, without specifying which ones.
Sudan has been facing financial difficulties amid an acute shortage of hard foreign currency that has seen the east African country’s economic crisis worsen.
Ghandour said he himself had been in touch with the governor of the country’s central bank but has failed to secure funds to pay the diplomats.
“The situation has now turned dangerous, which is why I am talking about it publicly,” he said.
Ghandour said there was a feeling among some government officials that paying wages to diplomats and rent for diplomatic missions were not a priority.
“Some ambassadors and diplomats want to return to Khartoum now... because of the difficulties faced by them and their families,” he said.
When asked by reporters for more details after his speech, Ghandour said the wages of diplomats and rents of missions amounted to about $30 million annually, while the ministry’s total annual budget was about $69 million.
Sudan has been hit hard by an acute shortage of foreign currency that has seen the pound plunging against the dollar, forcing the central bank to devalue it two times since January.
Expectations of a quick economic revival were high in the aftermath of October 12 when Washington lifted its decades-old sanctions imposed on Khartoum.
But officials say the situation has not changed at all as international banks continue to be wary of doing business with Sudanese banks.
The country’s overall economy had been hit particularly hard after the south separated from the north in 2011, taking with it about 75 percent of oil earnings.
A surging inflation rate of about 56 percent, regular fuel shortages and rising prices of food items have often triggered sporadic anti-government protests in Khartoum and some other towns.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.