By: Robert Patrick Fati Gakwerere
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has fired central bank governor Johnny Ohisa Damian and other top finance officials, state television said. This is the second time he has dismissed a central bank official in just over a year.
The announcement late Monday did not specify why President Kiir fired Damian and appointed James Alic Garang, an advisor to the International Monetary Fund, in his place. South Sudan’s president also replaced the two deputy central bank governors, the head of the government’s tax authority and other senior officials in the finance and trade ministries.
Abrupt changes at the head of the central bank and the finance ministry have been frequent in recent years, and in 2020 alone the central bank governor was replaced twice. Damian only took office in August 2022, after Moses Makur Deng was removed from office. South Sudan’s economy has been depressed since civil war broke out in 2013, forcing around a quarter of its population to flee to neighboring countries. The war reduced oil production, the mainstay of economic activity. While crude oil production has improved in recent years, it has not yet reached pre-war levels.
Production in other sectors like agriculture also fell, while in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic and falling oil prices compounded South Sudan’s woes.