South Sudan’s opposition has welcomed President Salva Kiir’s decision to subject former petroleum minister Ezekiel Gatkouth to an investigation over the pre-sale of crude oil.
Set up on June 25, the committee will probe the “pre-sale process, off-take, sale, payments and taxes” following claims of corruption and bribery.
The investigation team will be led by Cabinet Minister Elia Lomuro and will be supported by security officials.
The SPLA-In Opposition described congratulated President Kiir for the “courageous and statesmanship action” of probing the former oil minister.
“We urge all the peace loving people of South Sudan to rally behind and support the actions of President Kiir in war against corruption in government institutions beginning with the Ministry of Petroleum and we hope the actions of the present will spread to other government institutions embroiled in corruption,” said SPLA-IO in a statement.
ChimpReports understands the cabinet on June 28 resolves to suspend all oil contracts presided over by Gatkuoth.
Kiir recently sacked Gatkuoth before replacing him with Eng. Daniel Awuou Daniel.
“Being a well-informed technocrat, you should stamp out corruption in the oil sector and revive the economy through the petroleum industry,” said Kiir during the inauguration of Awuou on June 14 in Juba.
Gatkouth previously served as South Sudan Ambassador to United States.
He was arrested and detained in 2013 before the country slipped into anarchy.
Gatkouth defected to dissident former Vice President Riek Machar’s camp before participating in negotiations with Kiir’s government. He was appointed petroleum Minister on August 02, 2016 to facilitate the development, promotion and management of oil resources to foster the economic growth of South Sudan after the brutal civil war.
Under Gatkouth’s tenure, South Sudan witnessed the signing of exploration agreements, construction of oil refineries and resumption of oil production in parts of the Country where oil output had previously slumped.
But the Auditor General’s reports recently exposed liabilities posed by agreements signed with foreign oil firms.
Some of the companies which signed oil agreements with South Sudan under Gatkouth’s leadership include Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum.
On November 23, 2018, South African Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe on a working trip to Juba, South Sudan announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa and South Sudan which would see investments in the South Sudan Oil sector worth USD 1 Billion including the construction of an oil refinery and would also involve South Africa taking part in the exploration of several oil blocks and avenues for construction of a pipeline in the South of the Country.
The sector has also witnessed prospective investments and interest from Russian firms and others from the African continent.
The investigation committee is mandated to produce its report within 14 working days from June 21.