South Sudan backtracks on embassy shutdowns, set to reopen 4


South Sudan president Salva Kiir (L). (Photo: Xinhua)

JUBA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan has reversed a decision to close down some of its embassies across the world as the country's president Salva Kiir on Friday ordered the reopening of four diplomatic missions that were closed some months ago.

Kiir quashed a previous directive for the closure of some diplomatic missions and ordered the reopening of three embassies in Europe and one in Asia, information minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting.

"The president informed the cabinet that he has set aside the order that was made for the closure of some embassies," Makuie said.

"Those embassies which were closed... another order has been issued reinstating them. These embassies are of Norway, France, Italy and Kuwait... now these embassies will continue to operate," he added.

South Sudan's foreign ministry announced in May that it was reviewing the status of its 39 embassies and consulates across the world and close some in a bid to reduce operational costs.

Mawien Makol Arik, foreign affairs ministry spokesperson, said at the time that the move was aimed at reducing the cost of running diplomatic missions amid an ongoing economic crisis in the conflict-torn east African country.

"It is a process that is still underway and we are going to finalize it and come out with the embassies that are going to be closed," Arik told Xinhua earlier.

According to the World Bank, South Sudan is the most oil-dependent nation in the world, with oil accounting for around 60 percent of its gross domestic product.

But after the young nation descended into civil war in late 2013, oil production declined from 350,000 barrels per day in 2011 to less than 130,000 barrels per day in 2014 amid soaring inflation.

The value of the local currency, South Sudanese pound, also depreciated and prices for goods and services climbed sharply, making life difficult for citizens in the country.