JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has named former Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin as the new foreign minister of the African oil producer, the first appointment in a new cabinet after firing the previous lineup.
On Tuesday, Kiir sacked his entire cabinet, Vice President Riek Machar and put under investigation his top Sudan negotiator, Pagan Amum, amid a power struggle in the African nation.
Benjamin, a close ally of Kiir and veteran of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), told Reuters he had learned about his appointment from watching state television.
He said he did not know when the rest of the cabinet would be appointed. Benjamin is known as South Sudan's face to the world as he was previously also the government's spokesman.
Kiir is facing dissent from inside his party, the general public and Western donors for failing to deliver on a "peace" development dividend in the war-torn country which seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war.
Machar said on Friday he would challenge Kiir for the SPLM chairmanship, a contest that analysts fear might threaten the consensus among rival tribes and former civil war militias that holds the vast country together.
Stability in South Sudan is key for crude oil producers from China, India and Malaysia operating in the country and for east African neighbors Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda which were swamped with refugees during the civil war.
(Reporting by Andrew Green and Ulf Laessing; Editing by David Evans)
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