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Inside Story

S Sudan: A reshuffle or a governance crisis?

We discuss the shake up of the South Sudanese cabinet and what this means for Africa's newest nation and its neigbours.

Last Modified: 25 Jul 2013 12:13
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South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, fired the entire cabinet including his deputy Riek Machar, on Tuesday.

The president of the world's newest nation, gave no clear reason for these sackings, but he has been locked in a power struggle with Machar for months.

I think it is more than a government reshuffle. A reshuffle would mean that the ministers would remain in position, then they would introduce the new ministers into the position. At the moment that is not the case. The ministers have been suspended and the government is being run by the top civil servants.

Jacob Akol, director of online news agency Gurtong and chairman of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan

State television cited a presidential decree saying the ministries would be run for now by their under-secretaries.

There have been signs of a growing rift in President Kiir's government in recent months, and at the same time he has been battling to maintain control of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (APLA), the former rebel group that now runs the country.

South Sudan is a de facto one-party state, and whoever runs the party effectively becomes the president.

Deputy President Machar had been challenging Kiir and he also made it clear that he intends to run for president in elections in two year's time.

Kiir also suspended his powerful Finance Minister Kosti Manibe as well as his cabinet affairs minister last month, both of whom are now being investigated in connection with a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

A number of police brigadiers have also been fired, adding to the dozens of generals who have already been removed from their jobs over the past year.

"There has long been talk of reshuffle and the need to reduce the size of the overall government, but a move this dramatic was not expected," said Aljazeera's Anna Cavell reporting from Juba. 

So what are the consequences for Africa's newest nation and its neighbour, Sudan, to the north?

To discuss this on Inside Story, presenter Mike Hanna is joined by guests: Barnaba Benjamin, former spokesperson for the South Sudanese government; Jacob Akol, director of online news agency Gurtong and chairman of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS); and Waleed Madibo, Sudan affairs analyst and founder of the Governance Bureau - a Sudanese NGO.

"[The president] has constitutional powers where he can make a reshuffle in the government. Since 2010 [was] the last reshuffle he conducted, now 3 years later, he has decided to do a major reshuffle .... I think this is a normal democractic process that is accomodated within our constitution and within his constitutional powers."

- Barnaba Benjamin, a former spokesman for the South Sudanese government

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