AFRICANGLOBE – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has sacked his deputy and all cabinet ministers to thwart a perceived challenge to his leadership.
Kiir and Vice Vice-President Riek Machar have been entangled in a power struggle for months.
Machar was stripped of some of his powers in April but growing internal fighting over who was going to control the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is believed to have forced the president to fire his ministers.
Since independence from Sudan, South Sudan has suffered from chronic economic problems.
The problems which stem from lingering rows over territory and oil with Sudan, has resulted in increasing criticism against Kiir’s leadership.
Some the criticism has even come from cabinet ministers who are all from the SPLM.
Kiir’s biggest critic has been Machar who had stated that he may stand against Kiir for leadership of the SPLM before the next presidential election in 2015.
The SPLM has no serious political rivals making the battle for the movement’s, a race for the presidency as well.
Analysts have been quick to attribute the cabinet reshuffle to the fight between Kiir and Machar.
“It’s a way to fire the vice president. He can say, ‘I have fired the whole cabinet’ – not just the vice president,” political analyst Andrea Mabior told reporters.
However, other analysts believe Salva Kiir was just trying to stem dissent and divisions inside his ruling party over an economic crisis.
Under-secretaries have been put in charge of the departments and the government insists it can function smoothly until new ministers are appointed.
The sackings also came at a time when South Sudan was locked in a dispute with Sudan over oil flows, and escalating rebel and ethnic violence.