South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, has dissolved the young nation's 10 states and established 28 new ones in their place, a move critics say undermines the power-sharing deal signed in August after a two-year civil war.
Kiir issued his decree in a late-night broadcast on Thursday. He named governors for all 28 states. Seven of the previous 10 governors have been reappointed to new administrative zones.
Rebel leadership has not yet issued a response to the president's action.
On Tuesday, representatives of the rebels and the government met in Juba in hopes of forming a transitional government of national unity.
The government and rebel factions have been holding sporadic peace talks since shortly after the conflict began in mid-December 2013, but several cease-fire agreements have been violated over the years.
Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar have repeatedly accused each other of breaking the peace deals.
US urges cooperation
The United States said Tuesday that it welcomed the return to talks, and added that "many important but difficult decisions remain."
Washington called on both parties to cooperate "in the spirit of unity and compromise" to implement the reforms outlined in the peace agreement.
South Sudan is the world's youngest country, winning independence from Sudan in 2011.
Fighting between government forces and Machar's rebels has been especially brutal on civilians.
Both sides are accused of having perpetrated ethnic massacres, recruited and killed children, carried out widespread rape and torture, and forced displacement of populations to "cleanse" areas of their opponents.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million from their homes while pushing parts of the population into famine conditions.