11 May 2017

South Sudan Army Chief Says He Will Return to Juba

Photo: Peter Mwayi/Daily Monitor
Former South Sudan People’s Liberation Army commander, Gen Paul Malong.

Juba — South Sudan army chief Paul Malong, who was dismissed on Tuesday, has said he will return to the capital Juba.

The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army chief of general staff had left Juba after being sacked.

Gen Malong retreated to Yirol in Eastern Lakes State with 20 bodyguards, according to Information minister Marial Amum.

Amum said Gen Malong reported to the office of Lakes State governor.

As of Wednesday evening, he was still in Yirol, but said he would return to Juba once a plane was sent to pick him up, Amum told journalists.

"I am waiting for a plane and will return to Juba immediately it arrives," the general told a local radio station.

"I am a soldier. Moving around the country with my bodyguards should not surprise anyone or make others panic."

Gen Malong was replaced by his deputy James Ajongo Mawut.

He accepted the President Salva Kiir's decision, saying Gen Mawut was suitable for the job.

"Ajongo is a brilliant and strong officer. He has contributed a lot to this nation," he said, and urged South Sudanese to ignore "wild rumours".

He said he had no intention of waging a war against President Kiir, adding that changes in the military high command were normal.

However, it remains unclear why Gen Malong left Juba at night, on the same day he was dismissed.


Gen Ajongo has urged the international community to help the country financially as it strives to end the three-year civil war.

"Those who negotiated the peace agreement know very well that it cannot be implemented without funds," he told reporters in Juba.

"It is like they are not willing to support the government of South Sudan as it tries to implement key areas in the agreement."

Ajongo, a veteran of the liberation war, called for calm amid anxiety in Juba following changes in the military.

He admitted that the task ahead was tough.

"I know it's a difficult task, given the fact that the country is in the midst of a civil war," he said.

The appointment came at a critical time when the image of the country's military is tainted with allegations of mass civilian killings, rape, theft, torture and plunder of resources.

Since December 2013, the army has been fighting rebels allied to former vice-president Riek Machar

More militia groups have also sprung up following renewed clashes in July 2016 after the collapse of a peace deal.

Kiir's spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny dismissed reports of anxiety surrounding the dismissal of Gen Malong.

Before his sacking, Gen Malong was viewed by many South Sudanese as the power behind the throne.

The general has been accused by the UN and humanitarian agencies of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Additional reporting by Xinhua

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