State television on Tuesday evening broadcast a presidential decree from Salva Kiir, saying he had dismissed all of his cabinet ministers, including his vice president, and ordered an investigation into the secretary general of his ruling SPLM party. The decree provided no reasons for the complete dismissal of the South Sudanese government.
Kiir's now-deposed Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin spoke to French news agency AFP, technically in his current capacity as merely a member of parliament.
"President Kiir wants to make a major reshuffle, so from the vice president downwards, all national ministers and deputy ministers have been removed," Benjamin said.
Security forces were deployed on the streets of the capital Juba, but there were no immediate reports of any unrest.
"Why should there be instability? This is a constitutional problem... he [Kiir] is the head of the government," Benjamin told AFP. "It is his constitutional mandate to form and dissolve a government."
As clear as mud
No replacements were announced on Tuesday and there was no information on whether current ministers might return to their old roles, or to new ones. Benjamin said he believed that some of the previous ministers would be included in South Sudan's new cabinet.
Two-year-old South Sudan gained formal independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. A referendum on independence, overwhelmingly approved by the South Sudanese people, was one of the conditions for a prior peace accord that helped stop five decades of conflict between rebels and successive governments in Khartoum.
The country is one of the poorest on earth, rich in oil but lacking even the infrastructure to export it without help from neighboring Sudan.
President Kiir suspended two key ministers last month, launching investigations into allegations of a multi-million-dollar corruption scandal.
Kiir's decree also said the president had suspended Pagan Amun, the secretary general of the ruling SPLM party, and launched an investigation against him, without naming further details. Amun was perhaps best known as South Sudan's top negotiator in tricky peace and cooperation talks with the Sudanese government.
msh/ccp (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)