13 May 2017

South Sudanese Celebrate Former Army Boss Return to Juba

Photo: Daily Monitor
Gen Paul Malong in spectacles arrives in Juba .

Hundreds of South Sudanese on Saturday afternoon took to the streets upon getting news of the arrival of the former Chief of General Staff of the national army, SPLA.

General Paul Malong left the capital on Wednesday after a decree by President Salva Kiir replacing him as the army boss.

There was growing fear in the country after Gen Malong left Juba for his home town in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, with many speculating that he had gone to launch war.

However before his departure, the kingpin reassured the nation that he had no intention to rebel against the government. Speaking to journalists, Gen Malong said he will continue to serve the nation as he has done in the past.

President Kiir on Friday accused the former chief of armed forces of failing to hand over office peacefully and being antagonistic in a telephone conversation after his hurried departure from Juba three days ago.

Speaking at a news conference held at the presidency in Juba to dispel fears of a new armed conflict in the troubled country between him and Malong, President Kiir said citizens should cease from "inciting fear through the spread of unfounded rumours through social media."

"I am aware that this change of command [in the army] and the subsequent departure of the former Chief of General Staff [Gen Paul Malong] have caused some apprehension across the country. I am here today to assure you that the security situation remains normal and all citizens are urged to continue with their daily routine," said Kiir.

Kiir further said Gen Malong is defying a request to return to Juba from the Lakes State where he has been stopped by local authorities from continuing to his home region of Northern Bahr El Ghazal.

"Personally, I am in communication with the former Chief of Staff, assured him of his safety," Kiir said.

He further accused unnamed foreign hands of supporting Paul Malong to turn into unplanned problems.

"It is the concern of everybody and nobody wants Gen Paul Malong to run into such unplanned problems. There are so many foreign hands that are now seen behind Gen Paul pushing him," he said.

Kiir said Malong did not hand over the office to his successor Gen James Ajongo Mawut and failed to congratulate the new army chief and "he did not call me (President Kiir) to thank me for the period he spent as SPLA Chief of Staff."

Nevertheless, Kiir praised the former SPLA chief of general staff as a liberator and commended his service to the people of South Sudan.

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