June 12, 2010 (Khartoum) — South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir reappointed his deputy, state media said on Saturday, in his first step to forming a new government to take the underdeveloped region to a 2011 independence referendum.
Sudan’s oil-producing south secured its own semi-autonomous government, and the referendum on whether it should split off as a separate country, in a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war with the north.
Kiir, who won an overwhelming April election victory to stay in power as president of south Sudan, issued a decree reappointing Riek Machar as the region’s vice president, the state Suna news agency reported.
Kiir is expected to name the rest of his new cabinet in the next few days, with seven months left before the plebiscite, due in January 2011.
Analysts say southerners, embittered by decades of war and perceived northern exploitation, overwhelming want to secede.
The new government will face a list of challenges ahead of the vote including drought, surging tribal violence and rebellions by at least three militia leaders angry at the results of the April elections.
Fighters loyal to militia leader David Yauyau kidnapped four government guards in south Sudan’s Boma wildlife park close to the border with Ethiopia on Thursday, south Sudan’s army said.
The southern army said it had sent out a battalion to rescue the men and retrieve radio equipment stolen in the raid in Jonglei state, where French oil giant Total has a largely unexplored concession.
Sudan’s overall president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, is also expected to announce the country’s national coalition government in the near future.
Bashir said this said the key national Ministry of Energy and Mining would be led by a member of Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).