The government in war-torn South Sudan will not be expelling any foreign workers, contrary to what it said on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, officials in South Sudan said they would ‘recall’ the order to expel expatriates and replace it with an ‘appeal’ to hire locals.
Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin added the issue “will be discussed later.”
If the country does roll back the directive less than a day after announcing it, this would be third time in as many years that it has directed companies and aid organization to expel workers, only to later recant the directive.
The South Sudanese government told NGOs and private companies “to notify all aliens working with them in all positions to cease working” within a month.
Hours later government officials were already denying such a decree had gone out.
According to at least one news analyst, this appeared to suggest the decree was released prematurely and the government was still in the process of working on employment regulations.
Tens of thousands of skilled workers, many from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, work in South Sudan. Foreign workers run the country’s mobile telephone network, banking sector, upstream oil activities, hotels and other key infrastructure.
South Sudan suffers from a major shortage of skilled workers. Only about a quarter of its population can read and write.