South Sudan judges end strike to return to huge legal backlog

JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudanese judges ended a five-month strike without a pay deal on Thursday, saying they had to clear a massive backlog of cases.

President Salva Kiir, who in July sacked several striking judges, has told union representatives he would resolve their demands in the near future, Arop Malueth of the Judges and Justice Union said.

The strike was over salaries that the judges say have been rendered practically worthless by hyperinflation in a country in civil war since 2013.

Courts already faced a huge backlog as the nation of 12 million people only had 274 judges on the payroll in the last government budget. Some have since resigned, some are off sick and others are on leave, the union said.

“This strike has gone for five months but nothing has been done by the authorities and our citizens have been suffering every day because the courts are closed,” Malueth told Reuters.

The union’s general assembly agreed on Wednesday to return to work on Sept. 11.

War has brought famine and forced more than a quarter of South Sudan’s population to flee their homes, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Reporting by Denis Dumo; Editing by George Obulutsa and Robin Pomeroy