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Sudan Tribune

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South Sudan’s Kiir sacks foreign affairs minister

March 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has sacked the country’s foreign affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, a day after he referred to people from Abyei as Sudanese.

South Sudan's foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin (Photo: Getty Images)
South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin (Photo: Getty Images)
In a decree, read on the state-owned SSTV Wednesday, the South Sudan leader did not give reasons for Marial’s removal.

Marial signed a document sent to the United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights, in which Luka Biong Deng, a former South Sudanese minister for the presidency was referres to as a Sudanese national.

Biong, who hails from Abyei, fled the country in October last year after he was threatened by security agents over a symposium he organised on the controversial creation of 28 new states.

Marial denied speaking such a statement, but declined to apologise publicly. He told a press conference in Juba on Monday that Abyei, the land of nine Ngok Dinka chiefdom as a South Sudanese land. He said the Dinka people are exclusively South Sudanese.

The foreign affairs minister was criticised by opposition parties who called for his resignation.

Marial’s removal, analysts say, was linked to his remarks on people from the disputed region.

A graduate from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Marial previously served as minister for regional cooperation, commerce and industry, information and broadcasting before he was appointed in 2013 as South Sudan’s foreign minister.

He also has a short stint as minister of international cooperation in the Khartoum-based Government of National Unity from 2005 and 2006. During South Sudan’s liberation struggle, Marial held various positions, including serving as secretary of international relations representing the SPLM in the executive of National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

(ST)