Home | News    Sunday 27 April 2014

South Sudan’s new army commander says constitutional defence top priority


April 26, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s new army (SPLA) commander has said his priority will be to protect the constitution and the territorial integrity of the new nation, in an apparent back-track on previous statements in which he called for the withdrawal of soldiers from the Bahr el Ghazal region fighting rebel forces in different areas across the country.

JPEG - 14.9 kb
General Paul Malong Awan has been appointed to replace General James Hoth Mai as the new commander of the South Sudanese army

Speaking to government officials on Saturday who had paid him a visit to offer their congratulations on his appointment, General Paul Malong Awan said restoring law and order was at the top of his agenda.

“The mission of an army is always to ensure defence of the nation, the lives of the people from any harmful threats and their properties. Another important mission of the army is to protect the constitution of the country and restore law and order. This is what we must do now as the top priority,” he said.

While Awan acknowledged existing challenges facing the army, he said he was committed to working with the country’s leadership to ensure that the basic needs of military personnel are met.

He also urged the army to remain prepared and on alert in the face of impending conflict with the rebel fighters in the country.

“I have always said that a soldier should always give priority to combat preparations. The minds of the commanding officers and soldiers alike seem to be away from the battlefield. This current attitude and behaviours must change,” he said.

However, critics have questioned the reasons behind Awan’s sudden change of heart, after previously advocating for the withdrawal of government troops from Aweil, the capital of his home state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal (NBeG).

Awan, a military veteran and the current governor of NBeG, was appointed after his predecessor General James Hoth Mai was sacked by president Salva Kiir.

Observers say Awan and his supporters pressured the president to remove the SPLA’s former chief of general staff amid concerns Mai was working against the leadership and collaborating with government critics.

Awan had also threatened to recall government troops from the Northern Bah el Ghaal region currently fighting rebels loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states.

“I have always said this president has reached a point where he only reacts to threats about him. He lacks strategies because he is not proactive. He has now appointed Malong because he had threatened to expose him,” a critic of Awan told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

“He (Awan) said he would encourage the recall of all those in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, saying he would see how they (his critics in the government) would fight the rebels without him,” he added.

Another critic, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the president realised his popularity was waning and thus wanted to surround himself with his most trusted advisers and allies.

“The president removed General James Hoth Mai because he was [an] objective officer. He does not want to be used in the conflict, which allies of the president like Paul Malong did not like. Those [supporters] of Malong were seeing James Hoth as collaborating with politicians working to bring the president down,” he said.

The critic said Kiir’s decision to appoint both the head of military intelligence and army chief of staff not only from within his home region but also from his own ethnic group suggested the president’s power base was slipping.

“The recent appointments in the army have shown that the president has accepted to be a regional leader. He is no longer the head of the state, otherwise what prevented him from appointing the new chief of general staff from [an]other region or tribe? the critic said in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

He said the president’s decision to replace moderate and liberal army generals with hardliners from the region would add more pressure on his government and possibly defeat from the presidency.

“The president thinks the removal of moderate and liberal army officers from their positions would spare him from this crisis. No. These changes will add more pressure,” he said.

Anthony Sebit, a Juba-based analyst, said the president was removing military figures whose loyalty had been called into question by his supporters and replacing them with loyalists in order to allow him to assert complete authority by aligning those who he thinks will help boost his leadership into the future.

“My reading from these recent changes is that the president had reached a point where his close aides and allies were getting frustrated. We hear some of them had threatened to recall their relatives and friends serving in the army. These were already signs of frustrations,” said Sebit.

“So for him (the president) to appease them (his allies) is to act in their favour. After all, the government in the African context is all about friends and people you trust,” he added.


Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 27 April 08:50, by Mi diit

    What does this illiterate Malong Awan with 60 wives know about the constitution? He is like his illiterate alcoholic boss called Kiir Kuethpiny. Both of them will be out of power soon. I hope Malong will not be in frontline otherwise he willl die soon. But I know he will run to helicopters to Juba for safety like his colleagues as usual.

    repondre message

  • 27 April 09:10, by Chol A.

    Weak and politises critique, how many states includes Dinka? Malong got different state as well as Marial does. Kiir had done enough by appointed people of different tribes to work in plan A but any one who he have appoint use to have plan B and work against him. So he have right to chose who ever deliever job and work with him. Bashir got his cousin has defence minister so why not Kiir doing it?

    repondre message

  • 30 April 09:42, by The rock

    I hate malong so much but, with this appointment i appreciate it and the reason is simple, fight for honesty or quiet for honesty. Riek is messing our country because of the weak army he had known but now, you wait and see the moral of the SPLA and the rest of the organised forces. for this country to be peaceful, this fight should be fought to it maximum level or else deal with it

    repondre message

Comment on this article


The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Referenda in Scotland and South Sudan told a tale of two cities 2014-09-21 06:01:02 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman September 20, 2014 - This article comes against the backdrop of the referendum in Scotland and southern Sudan in the years 2014 and 2011, respectively, and the result was (...)

Undermining South Sudanese expertise’s is ironical! 2014-09-19 10:15:59 By Peter Gai Manyuon September 18, 2014 - The recent order from the Ministry of Labor and Public Service in the Republic of South Sudan that was issued on 16th of September 2014 is absolute (...)

Sudan - Colliding interests 2014-09-16 10:04:11 By Mohamed Elshabik September 15, 2014 - Sudan seems to be unconcerned by the current political crisis in the region. Amid a prognosis of full-scale war in South Sudan, unrest in Egypt, chaos in (...)


Latest Press Releases

Sudan Democracy First Group: Art as resistance – art as resilience 2014-09-09 12:34:15 Sudan Democracy First Group Art as Resistance – Art as Resilience September 8, 2014 - To mark the third anniversary of the resumption of civil war in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, (...)

Sudan: Those behind unlawful killings and torture of protesters must be brought to justice 2014-09-03 13:13:43 Amnesty International Sudan: Those behind unlawful killings and torture of protesters must be brought to justice The brutal suppression of protest in Sudan must end, and members of the security (...)

National Dialogue in Sudan: Past experiences and current challenges 2014-08-27 06:18:22 Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) Since independence, Sudan has undergone a number of national peace agreements, some of which were observed and honored for short periods, others which were (...)


Copyright © 2003-2014 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.