South Sudan president rejects former military chief’s home trip
November 18, 2017 (JUBA) South Sudan President Salva Kiir has rejected a request from the former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan who sought the president permission to allow him to travel to his hometown, saying the latter can only travel to an outside country.
Former South Sudan army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan speaks at the presidential palace in Juba, November 16, 2017 (ST)
A prominent Dinka elder told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that they were still negotiating with the president on Malong’s request to visit his family members and relatives in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
«We have resumed negotiations with the President of the Republic of the request by Gen Paul Malong Awan, former chief of staff to go home. He [Malong] says if indeed the president has released and reconciled with him, why is he not allowed to go see his family,» the elder, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday.
He added, «We forwarded this question to the president and told he us that Malong is allowed to travel outside the country first. He [Kiir] rejected his [Malong] request to go home. We passed this message to Gen Malong and he is insisting, so we are still consulting ourselves and seeking advice about the next thing to do about this».
President Kiir, according to the official, questioned why the former military chief of staff was insisting on going to his home village if he did not have other motives.
«Why is Malong insisting on going home? The family was complaining about his [Malong] health and this was the reason he was released. So why can he first go for medical checks? Other arrangements to go home will later be made after returning from outside travel», the elder quoted the South Sudanese leader saying.
It remains unclear why the president does not want the former army chief to return home, casting doubts over the sincerity of the recent reconciliation in which Kiir agreed to work with Malong to open a new page in relations seeking lasting peace, unity as well as stability.
Security sources have expressed fears that the ex military chief feels he has been betrayed and humiliated following his dismissal in May and detention, amid concerns that he plans a rebellion that could destabilize Kiir’s stronghold and political support.
The South Sudan president on Thursday announced the official release of the house arrest of the former chief of staff, confined in his home since he was sacked in May.
The move ended weeks of tension and standoff in the capital, Juba between government and Awan after its attempts to disarm the latter’s guards failed.
While speaking at an occasion he organized for elders and church leaders who mediated between the Juba government Malong, the South Sudanese leader said it was time to open a new page in relations with the former army chief of general staff.
According to Kiir, there were no «ill motives» when he directed the reduction of Awan’s guards, insisting he acted in his capacity as overall commander of the forces in compliance and in accordance with rules and regulations governing the army.
Malong said he was ready to work with the president and open a new page in relations to consolidate peace, reconciliation, unity, harmony and peaceful coexistence.
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