BREAKING NEWS: South Sudan President Kiir fires Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial
President Salva Kiir tonight fired his foreign minister who had served in the role throughout the current civil war and prior to that had been South Sudan’s information minister.
In presidential decree number 169, read out on state-run SSTV tonight, Kiir provided no reason the removal of Barnaba Marial and also named no replacement.
The president’s decision comes just after the Democratic Change party and the SPLM Former Detainees called for Barnaba to resign after he stated in a letter sent to the United Nations in Geneva that prominent Abyei-born academic Luka Biong was not South Sudanese.
Deng Alor, a key member of the SPLM Former Detainees, and also a native of Abyei, had earlier been named as a possible candidate for the position of foreign minister in accordance with a power-sharing arrangement made in January this year.
Radio Tamazuj was informed, however, that Barnaba Marial was out of the country at the time the statement to UN Geneva was authored, and that the actual government statement including the remark about Luka Biong’s nationality was prepared by the office of the Minister in the Office of the President, Awan Guol Riak.
Also recently, Barnaba had been implicated in cash payments totaling more than half a million dollars, according to a report published by Radio Tamazuj. However, it is not clear that Barnaba’s removal was directly related to either the statements attributed to him about Luka Biong or the case of the cash payments.
In a related development, Salva Kiir attended a swearing-in of seven ambassadors on Wednesday. State-run SSTV reported that the national security minister, cabinet minister and the presidency minister were present on the occasion, but did not mention Barnaba Marial as being in attendance.
SSTV also cut suddenly from a clip of Barnaba with US Ambassador Donald Booth on Wednesday evening’s news broadcast, suggesting that the station had not been aware of the plans for removal of Barnaba and opted to change its playout live. It is common practice in Juba for SSTV sometimes to receive copies of presidential decrees only shortly before broadcast.
State TV had shown Booth and US Ambassador Molly Phee greeting Kiir today and said they met with him about the formation of the transitional government of national unity.
File photo: Barnaba Marial Benjamin (Radio Tamazuj)