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More South Sudanese officials declare income and assets

March 2, 2012 (JUBA) - More constitutional post holders in South Sudan declare their personal income and assets to the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) on Thursday, although like previous declarations the results were not made public.

The policy was reintroduced by a presidential decree, after the previous attempt had failed, calling on all the constitutional post holders, senior civil servants and officers from the organised forces to declare their income and assets before the 31 March. Any official who fails to submit the form before the deadline will be asked to resign.

Two weeks ago the vice president Riek Machar declared his income and assets to the commission, although his net wealth and assets have not been made public. Machar urged his colleagues to follow suit. The army’s top generals were also issued with the declaration forms and expressed their readiness to declare their wealth.

The most high profile of the latest batch of officials to declare their assets was Rebecca Nyandeng Garang de Mabior, a presidential Advisor on gender and human rights. Upon receiving a certificate on Thursday verifying she had declared all her assets and liabilities to SSACC she denied rumours that her family owns a beer company in Juba.

Speaking to reporters after receiving her certificate of declaration on Thursday, Nyandeng thanked the anti-graft commission. She said it was appropriate for officials to declare their wealth and assets so the public knew what was happening to the country’s resources.

In a statement on national television, Nyandeng explained that she filled all her income, assets and liabilities clearly. She said that most of her assets were from an insurance payout after the death of her husband the former chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), John Garang de Mabior. Garang died in a helicopter crash in 2005 just weeks after becoming the first vice president of Sudan and the President of South Sudan as part of the north-South peace deal.

Nyandeng denied and condemned the rumours and allegations that she owns the White Bull Company, which makes beer. She told state TV and radio that she did not know who owned the company, stressing that if the company belonged to her family, she would have declared it like other assets she had declared.

Other officials including minister of information and broadcasting, Barnaba Marial Benjamin and water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom Akec declared their assets at the same time.

The declaration forms are South Sudan’s latest attempt to root out corruption, which is rife in the young country. Billions of dollars of public funds have gone missing since the SPLM took power in Juba in 2005 following a peace deal with the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

In July last year South Sudan became independent but the world’s youngest country faces a host of problems including humanitarian emergencies and security issues as well as corruption.

On Thursday the chairperson of South Sudan’s workers trade and union also joined the top government officials in declaring his assets and liabilities to the SSACC.

Meanwhile the minister for information and broadcasting, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin urged all the ministers and top officials of the government to be transparent in the exercise saying everybody should be accountable.

At the same time, the minster for water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom Akech asserted that they will assist the commission take tougher decisions to reduce corruption vowing that they did not fight to embezzle public funds.

On his part, the chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Justice John Gatwech Lul announced that whoever fills the form without declaring all the assets and later discovered will forfeit the assets which will then be transferred into government account.

There are concerns that some officials may have banked stolen money under different names, making it difficult to trace.

The SSACC boss however earlier said he was mobilising expertise from Europe and America who will employ the latest techniques of tracing and detecting “stolen” money from financial institutions around the world.

(ST)