“We are asking our citizens, please do your duty and go to work. Give the president a chance to form his government. He has already empowered the technocrats to see the day-to-day running of the administration,” said former information minister and government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin in a Miraya radio broadcast.
According to Fox News, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, dissolved the government firing vice president Riek Machar and Pagan Amum — the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) secretary-general. Twenty-nine ministers (including Benjamin) and their deputies were suspended, as were 17 police brigadiers.
Wednesday, Police and troops surrounded government buildings in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba. The security forces were sent in large groups and blocked numerous streets, Fox News reported. Citizens were asked via radio broadcasts to remain calm as president Kiir is working to restructure the government cabinet. So far there have been no reports of retaliation from the public.
“This is routine work, they are being deployed to protect the ministries,” army spokesman Philip Aguer said in the report.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that tensions between Kiir and Machar fueled the president’s decision. Both former SPLM senior commanders from 1983-2005, during the country’s second civil war, Kiir’s disdain for the former vice president is rooted in Machar’s criticism of SPLM leadership.
According to The Christian Science Monitor report, in August 1991, Machar headed a “breakaway faction” of the SPLM after releasing a paper titled “Why John Garang Must Go Now, ” where he and others expressed negative opinions of the SPLM and the government.
Upon splitting with the movement, according to Fox News, Machar led troops that battled a force commanded by Kiir. Machar, who is of South Sudan’s Dok Nuer people, has been accused of heading a massacre of the Dinka people — a tribe which Kiir belongs. Still, a dismissal of the entire cabinet was unexpected.
Machar has been outspoken about his plans to run against Kiir in the 2015 elections, although his supposed party mismanagement is under examination, according to Fox News.