Oil Minister Named in Shakeup of South Sudanese Government Posts

South Sudan appointed a new petroleum minister and the heads of five other ministries, about 10 days after ex-rebel leader Riek Machar was replaced as the war-torn country’s vice president by a breakaway faction.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth will assume control of the oil portfolio in the nation with sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest crude reserves, William Ezekiel, a spokesman for an opposition faction in the capital, Juba, said Wednesday by phone. Gatkuoth was nominated by Vice President Taban Deng Gai, who assumed Machar’s role on July 26.

James Gatdet Dak, a spokesman for Machar in neighboring Kenya, said that six ministers were fired because they were still loyal to the ex-rebel leader. Most of those replaced are already in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, he said by phone from the city.

South Sudan’s government has said companies are pumping as little as 120,000 barrels of oil a day because of the civil war that erupted in December 2013. That conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 2 million to flee their homes.

A transitional government formed by President Salva Kiir and Machar in April to end the violence was thrown into turmoil in early July by renewed fighting between forces loyal to the two men that claimed at least 270 lives. Machar fled the capital and his delegation there said they’d lost contact, replacing him with Gai. Machar has called his removal illegal.

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