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Ex- South Sudan army chief arrives in Khartoum

Gen Paul Malong Awan (C) speaking to Francis Deng at Juba airport while waiting to board a flight to Kenya on 19 November 2017 (ST photo)
March 16, 2018 (JUBA) - The former South Sudan army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan is in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, sparking social media speculations and curiosity behind the visit which he denied previously.

The circumstance under which the ex-army chief arrived in Khartoum remains speculative. Family members and friends on the one hand and the government and his critics, on the other hand, provided conflicting accounts.

None knows the exact cause and objective of the mission.

Family members and friends told Sudan Tribune on Friday that Awan is in Sudanese capital for a private mission with the knowledge of resident Kiir and the Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders.

Government and critics, however, claimed Awan is in Sudan for a negative mission, claiming he went to finally pursue ways to implement his rebellious strategies against the government and the people of the country.

Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify the veracity of the claims, although several family members have confirmed Awan is indeed in Sudan.

However, South Sudanese opposition circles in Khartoum said the former chief of general staff - whose whereabouts in Khartoum is shrouded in secrecy - would fly Saturday to Jordan for medical treatment.

Awan left Juba in November 2017 as part of an elders-brokered deal following days of standoff between his guards and the government forces. At the time, President Salva Kiir ordered to disarm him and reduce the number of guards permitted according to the guiding military rules and regulations which allow up to a maximum of 6 guards and minimum 2 of armed soldiers.

He left South Sudanese capital, Juba on a travel permit meant to be used for travel legs showing Juba, Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala in Uganda.

The former military officer did not acquire regular passport at the time of his travel and it is unclear whether or not he acquired a new passport.

Observers see Awan as a bitter man who may want to exert any effort to draw the attention of the president to his grievances.