Juba - 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, spokesperson at the foreign
affairs ministry, told 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
In a series of decrees signed on Tuesday evening 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.
A joint statement on Thursday from the African Union, Canada,
Norway, Switzerland, Britain and the United States urged all parties in South
Sudan "to take all measures necessary to maintain calm and prevent
On Thursday the South Sudanese capital Juba, where security
was beefed up following Tuesday's decrees, was calm.
The diplomats further called on South Sudan's leaders
"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," the statement said.
"It is critical that South Sudan stay true to the
vision it laid out for itself two years ago at its independence. That vision
can only be realized 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 went on.
Among those fired was Kiir's deputy and major political
rival Riek Machar.
Another of Kiir's political rivals, Pagan Amum, secretary
general of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement, was suspended and is
being investigated for "mismanagement" and
"insubordination". He was banned late on Thursday from leaving Juba
during the inquiry or speaking to the media, an official statement read on
national television said.
Many of the ministers were key figures in the rebel SPLM or
its armed wing that fought a brutal 1983-2005 war against the government of
Sudan, which led to a 2011 referendum in which South Sudan voted overwhelmingly
to split from the north.
Fired vice president Machar, of the Dok Nuer people from the
key oil producing Unity state, is a controversial figure but commands loyalty
among many branches of the Nuer, who form an integral part of the foot soldiers
of the new nation's ex-rebel army.
He has made no secret of his desire to challenge Kiir for
the presidency in elections due in 2015.
However, he fought on both sides of the civil war, leading a
splinter SPLM faction that sided with the Sudanese government, battling troops
commanded by Kiir, who comes from the Dinka people.
Machar's troops are accused of a brutal massacre in the
ethnic Dinka town of Bor in 1991.
"This latest move is part of an ongoing struggle in the
highest levels of South Sudan's political leadership," said Akshaya Kumar
of the US-based Enough Project, which campaigns for peace in the Sudans.
However, Charles Manyang, foreign affairs undersecretary and
now temporarily in charge of the ministry, told reporters the sackings were a
"legitimate exercise" of power by Kiir.
Last month, Machar led talks with Sudan's President Omar
al-Bashir to ease tensions after his government threatened to halt South
Sudanese oil flows transported through Sudan, worth billions of dollars to both
Amum was the top negotiator with Sudan at long-running
African Union-mediated talks over a raft of issues left unresolved at
independence, including border demarcation and oil exports.