Kiir comes under pressure over new South Sudan government

South Sudan President Salva Kiir. FILE 

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir on Thursday held consultations with a view to setting up a new government, two days after firing his entire cabinet, a government official said.
"The president wants to have time to consult before coming out with the government," Mayen Makol, spokesman at the foreign affairs ministry, told news agency AFP.

He declined to say how long the consultations would last. "It could be three days, four days, a week," he said, adding that in the meantime ministries are being run by senior civil servants.

In a series of decrees signed Tuesday evening President Kiir sacked his 28 ministers and their deputies as well as 17 police brigadiers and he announced his next government would consist of only 19 ministries.

President Kiir is already coming under pressure over the formation of a new government.

On Thursday the African Union Commission, Canada, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in a joint statement said they were following political developments in South Sudan with "apprehension."

Expedite new cabinet

The statement called on all parties to take all measures necessary to maintain calm and prevent violence, while urging the leaders of South Sudan to expedite the formation of a new cabinet.

"We encourage South Sudan to do so in a manner that reflects the diversity of the South Sudanese people, and in conformity with its Transitional Constitution and the democratic ideals the new country has espoused," the statement said.

"During this time of grave challenges it is critical that South Sudan stays true to the vision it laid out for itself two years ago at its independence.

"That vision can only be realised through sustained commitment to democracy and good governance, justice and accountability, and respect for rule of law and the human rights of all of South Sudan's people," it added.

Dissent and defiance

Mr Kiir Tuesday also sacked his deputy and rival Dr Riek Machar and suspended his ruling party secretary general and chief negotiator on post-secession issues with Sudan, Pagan Amum Okiech and subjected him to investigation.

Jonglei State Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk has backed the sacking of Riek Machar and called for him to step aside from the party instead of creating a power wrangle. Mr Machar has been critical of his boss and has declared his intention to oust him from the party's top seat.

There were demonstrations in northern states of the country in support of Kiir's decision, while South Sudanese have taken to the social media sites to largely back the dissolution.

President Kiir's latest action is the biggest shakeup of the government since independence on July 9, 2011.

In order to unite a fragile region and gear it towards independence, analysts say President Kiir preferred a hands-off approach, giving way for dissent and defiance within his administration.

--Additional reporting by AFP news agency.

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