South Sudan resumes issuing passports after month-long stoppage

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JUBA (Reuters) – South Sudan has resumed issuing passports after its German technology provider shut down the system for a month because the country failed to pay its bills, a senior immigration official said on Thursday.

South Sudan’s economy has been battered by a civil war, now in its fourth year.

“We have resumed our operation and whoever that is in need and wants to apply for national certificates and passports, we are ready to serve them,” Lieutenant General Majak Akech Malok, director general of Nationality, Passport and Immigration, told a news conference.

The national passports and immigration office said in late November that it had stopped giving out passports due to technical problems.

Then-Deputy Finance Minister Mou Ambrose Thiik told Reuters that the passport and national identification server had been blocked by its host, German company Muhlbauer, after the government failed to pay an annual software licence fee of around $500,000 (£372,309).

Akech made no mention of the government owing Muhlbauer any money and just said the stoppage was due to a “technical error”.

South Sudan’s main income is from oil but fighting has cut production to less than a third of pre-war levels.

Public funds are scarce and civil servants and soldiers go unpaid for months, while hyperinflation has rendered its currency almost worthless.

Thiik was relieved of his job by President Salva Kiir in early December.

(Reporting by Denis Dumo; Editing by George Obulutsa and Catherine Evans)

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