South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has announced the removal of central bank governor Johnny Ohisa Damian and several senior finance officials in a late-night announcement broadcasted on state television. This marks the second time in just over a year that President Kiir has made such a change at the helm of the central bank.
The official statement, released on Monday, did not provide a specific reason for the removal of Johnny Ohisa Damian. Instead, President Kiir has appointed James Alic Garang, an advisor to the International Monetary Fund, as his replacement. Alongside this change, the President also replaced the central bank’s two deputy governors and key officials in the government’s revenue authority, as well as the finance and trade ministries.
These abrupt leadership changes within the central bank and finance ministry have become somewhat common in South Sudan in recent years. Remarkably, in 2020 alone, the central bank governor was replaced twice.
Johnny Ohisa Damian assumed the position in August 2022, succeeding Moses Makur Deng, who was removed from the role.
South Sudan’s economy has been grappling with challenges since the outbreak of a civil war in 2013, which led to a significant portion of its population seeking refuge in neighboring countries. The conflict severely impacted the nation’s oil production, which is a primary driver of its economic activity. While there has been some improvement in crude oil output in recent years, it has yet to return to pre-war levels.
Additionally, other sectors such as agriculture have seen sharp declines, and in 2020, the country faced the dual economic blows of the COVID-19 pandemic and plummeting oil prices, further exacerbating its economic woes.