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Former S. Sudan army chief downplays rift with president

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September 24, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s former army chief, Paul Malong Awan says he does not have problems with President Salva Kiir, attributing his sacking and current detention to the pressure being exerted on the latter.

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S Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is received by former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA Paul Malong Awan at the airport in Juba March 6, 2015 (Reuters)

“There is no personal problem between me and president Salva. What happened [was] he [Kiir] was under pressure and so he implemented what others wanted”, he told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

The former army chief, who was axed in May, claimed president Kiir was being pushed to treat him in a manner likely to cause reactions.

“They know our relations and so they are not happy and they have been trying all along to cause this situation. I told the president several times about the activities of these people and he told me he was aware. So there was a pressure which we all know”, said Awan.

Awan, a former governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, vowed never to fight the very government he worked to maintain. He specifically cited the vital role he played in 2004 when late John Garang de Mabior, the founding leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) fell out with Kiir, who was then his immediate deputy.

The president replaced Awan with the deputy chief of general staff for administration and finance, Lietenant General James Ajongo Mawut.

By the time of his removal, Awan was overseeing an army that was in the spotlight, amid accusations of gross human rights violations, rape, atrocities and war crimes on civilians in conflict-affected areas.

The former army chief, who had recruited a notorious militia from his home region, allegedly failed to crack down on abuses by soldiers.

Early this year, the president criticised soldiers accused of raping women and girls, stressing that it was not a policy of the government.

"I want the general chief of staff General Paul Malong and the defence minister to report to me from now on if anything like this [rape] happens. In such a case, we will shoot the person who did it," Kiir said during a visit to Yei River state in February.

Barely a month ago, Awan was among the three South Sudanese officials sanctioned by the United States administration for undermining peace, security and stability in the war-torn country.

The sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Sigal Mandelker said, implied freezing assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions, banning them from travelling to the U.S and preventing Americans from doing business with them.

The nearly four-year conflict in South Sudan had killed tens of thousands of people and driven more than 2 million children out of the country, the United Nations says.

(ST)

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  • 24 September 23:29, by john akeen

    Mr. King Awan, please don’t misunderstand president Kiir, like you said you don’t have problem with president Kiir and president Kiir doesn’t have problem with you, one thing you should know is that, you’re president Kiir right hand, that’s why he didn’t want you to leave him and don’t forget there is some enemies in Juba

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  • 25 September 01:16, by Kush Natives

    King Paul Malong, talk like nothing happened with you and your boss, if President Salva Kiir was aware as he (Kiir) mentioned, then why are you not allowed to see your family even in hard time? I think you (Paul) the only one aware of the enemies within or outside, but President Salva Kiir have no clue of what exactly behind your detention.

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  • 25 September 04:25, by Majesty

    Malong dismissal was result of hardwork of gossipmonger of Kuol Manyang and Taban Deng Gai. For Kuol, the end results will hunt him forever.

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    • 25 September 05:51, by Malakal county Simon

      Queen Paul he is powerless and he had to beg/pretends like there is no serious issue between him and unwanted president Kiir to fight his way out......

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  • 25 September 09:14, by Kwacha Okonyomoi

    Malong Awan, You should know that everything has an end. You allowed your primitive Mathiang Anyor militia to disgrace the South Sudan Peoples’ Defense Force (SSPDF) image by raping innocent women, killing at will and robbing civilians of their property. This has not happened in civilized world. You acted as if you were the president ignoring President Kiir. Go for good and remain in house arrest

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    • 25 September 09:33, by Eastern

      SPLA has never been a clean force anyway...Changing name of the these organised bandits won’t change anything. Malong just did what SPLA has been doing since its inception way back in 1983. Kiir will one day face the humiliations he’s meting out on his former comrades in arm...

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  • 25 September 10:55, by lou nuer

    Feel the detention as you did to other people during your regime. Good enough you understood you don’t have problem with Kiir only that other people force Kiir to remove you from power. But you have serve Kiir government fully Malong much appreciaited but failed by Kiir at last.

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    • 25 September 11:29, by Landlord

      If you have no problem with president, why did you escape with many soldier and army hardware during your release from the office. You should gone alone or remain at home with making such move to Yirol.

      you must feel exactly what others felt during your era.

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  • 25 September 11:41, by Isaac

    Coward Malong (using civilians as shield), the whole south Sudanese know including Kiir that all the efforts your pursuing are aimed at freeing you at all cost. Who can’t imagine that you instructed burning your daughter to non-identifiable state to use it as a ploy to let you out of the country in the name of Doctor’ recommended DNA test? In-fact, if at worst, its better releasing Machar than you

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