JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN —
The world's youngest country has cancelled its Independence Day celebrations, saying what little money it has would be better spent elsewhere as it recovers from a devastating civil war.
South Sudan's information minister told reporters this week that the nation's fifth anniversary on July 9 will be observed with a presidential speech instead, "because of the expenses involved.''
The minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the celebrations usually cost at least 10 million South Sudanese pounds, or more than $450,000.
"If we can get this amount of money, we would prefer to use it for resolving our problems in the economy such as issues of payment of salaries and so forth,'' he said.
The East African country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but civil war broke out two years later. A peace deal was signed last year after tens of thousands of people were killed and more than 2 million displaced.
South Sudan remains fragile. The International Monetary Fund this month said its currency has depreciated by almost 90 percent since December. The country's oil economy has plunged.
And the government this week announced the rise of a new rebel group, one with an Islamic fundamentalist agenda. It includes former government troops, fighters from the Ugandan-led rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army and a Sudanese militia called the janjaweed.