South Sudan president sacks ministers, abandoning peace deal terms

Vice President Riek Machar's wife is one of the two officials fired by Salva Kiir

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, right, and Vice President Riek Machar. AFP
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South Sudan President Salva Kiir has fired two top security ministers, abandoning the terms of a peace agreement with opposition party leader and First Vice President Riek Machar.

Mr Kiir fired Defence Minister Angelina Teny, who is also Mr Machar's wife, and Interior Minister Mahmoud Solomon in a presidential order read out on state TV late on Friday, Lily Martin Manyiel, the President's spokeswoman said on Saturday.

"There is no reason I can give you right now" for their sacking but "it's a normal procedure usually", Ms Manyiel said.

She said no decision had been made on the ministers' replacements.

Mr Kiir and Mr Machar's forces signed a peace agreement in 2018 after five years of civil war that killed 400,000 people and sparked Africa's biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Implementation of the deal, known as the Revitalised Peace Agreement for South Sudan, has been slow and the opposing forces have clashed frequently over disagreements about how to share power.

In Friday's decree, Mr Kiir handed the defence ministry to his party, a role which, under the terms of the agreement, is meant to be filled by Mr Machar's party.

In exchange, the President gave Mr Machar's party the interior ministry.

The swap "is unilateral and a new cycle of violating the revitalised agreement", said Puok Both Baluang, Mr Machar's spokesman.

During a visit to South Sudan last month, Pope Francis implored the country's warring leaders to turn their backs on the violence, ethnic hatred and corruption that have stopped the world's youngest country from achieving peace and prosperity.

Edmond Yakani, a leading civil rights activist and a signatory of the peace agreement, said in a statement that he urged the presidency to explain "why there is an exchange of information that demonstrates the violation of the peace agreement".

Updated: March 04, 2023, 9:39 AM