Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Continued Power Struggles in South Sudan as President Kiir fires VP & Cabinet

Nicodemus Minde -@decolanga
In what is seen as a deliberate attempt to tame Vice President Riek Machar, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has fired him together with the entire cabinet. The President has also issued an order calling for investigation of the party’s Secretary General, Pagan Amum accusing him of inciting violence and criticizing his actions. Reports say that the president wants to make a 'big reshuffle' of the cabinet, but it is believed that he wants to tame Prof Machar who has indicated his desire to run for the chairmanship of the SPLM party and in turn the presidency in 2015. Riek Machar, who comes from the Nuer community, has enjoyed immense popularity over the years. In April 2013, president Kiir slashed the powers of Machar. SG Pagan Amium comes from the Shilluk community and historically, there has been ethnic antagonism between the communities of South Sudan. The president is an ethnic Dinka, which is South Sudan's largest community. 

The decree by the president signifies the power struggle undertones that have been going on for a long period now. The president's move exposes the schisms within the government and the SPLM party which could boil down to the army which is believed to be beyond the control of the president. With the country still in a precarious and fragile state, the dismissal of the VP and cabinet will further destabilize the two year old nation. The country still faces many challenges associated with national building (See my analysis on this here). With insistent power struggles and divisions within the government, South Sudan risks to fall into civil struggle which could take a tribal angle. Vice President Machar was at the fore front in the negotiations with Khartoum over a number of outstanding issues. It remains to be seen how his sacking will affect the ongoing negotiations.    

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