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Africa

New, leaner cabinet announced for South Sudan

A week after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked his cabinet, a new team has been announced. The main motive for the shakeup is believed to be a power struggle between Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.

Among the most conspicuous names missing from the new cabinet announced by South Sudan's state media is that of former vice-president Riek Machar.

After his dismissal Machar said he planned to challenge President Kiir for leadership of the ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), with a view to running for election in 2015. A new vice-president has not yet been appointed.

Also missing is Pagan Amun, former secretary-general of the SPLM.

Riek Machar (Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Riek Machar plans to challenge Salva Kiir for the presidency in 2015

The new cabinet includes several new appointments, such as the governor of troubled eastern Jonglei state, Kuol Manyang, who takes the key position of defense minister.

More than 100,000 people have fled their homes from Manyang's homeland of Jonglei in recent months, fleeing bitter rounds of ethnic violence and battles between the army and rebels.

Oil minister retained

Some ministers take on new areas of responsibility, such as Martin Elia Lomoro, previously minister of animal resources and fisheries, who now becomes minister of cabinet affairs.

Former information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin has been promoted to foreign minister.

Oil Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau is one of the few to retain his post, a key job for the oil-rich but deeply impoverished nation.

Landlocked South Sudan plans to build an alternative oil pipeline to Kenya or Djibouti via Ethiopia to end reliance on Sudan.

An oil worker in South Sudan's Upper Nile state (Photo: HANNAH MCNEISH/AFP/Getty Images)

The oil ministry is one of the few which remains in the same hands

Currently, exports need to go through the territory of the former civil war foe, which threatened last month to close two cross-border pipelines unless a row over alleged rebel support is resolved.

The sacking of the previous cabinet represents the most dramatic change in the young life of South Sudan, which became independent two years ago.

The number of ministries has been reduced by one third, with several now combined.

In an interview with DW's Africalink program, analyst Andrews Asamoah from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria said the new, leaner cabinet contains more people who are loyal to the president. "This could help the president realize his declared objectives with greater efficiency.

Chance for democracy

As to how the new line-up should be assessed in terms of national stability, Asamoah said that "would begin to play out once we find out how these guys are appreciated, particularly on the lines of their ethnicity and the different power poles that exist and which are gradually emerging within the country."

A map showing the position of Jonglei State

Jonglei State has been the scene of ethnic violence

Much would depend on their ability "to convince people in the run-up to the 2015 elections that this is a credible government which should be retained in power. They will have to answer to the people as to whether they are just going to swallow the dictates of the president hook, line and sinker or whether they are going to work in the interests of the people."

Asamoah said there was a sense in South Sudan that the dividends of independence were not yet being felt and that was a challenge the new cabinet should address.

Regarding the divisions now to be seen within the SPLM, for example pitting Machar and Amun against Kiir, Asamoah believes there will either be "a strengthening of democratic structures within the party, or some individuals could move to set up a strong opposition which would work in the interests of the country's democratic experiment."

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