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Paul Malong says President Kiir refused South Sudan peace deal but not him

June 1, 2018 (JUBA) - The former South Sudanese army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan Friday accused President Salva Kiir of sabotaging the peace implementation process in July 2016 and asked him to shoulder his responsibility refusing to be a scapegoat for him.

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SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan (C) is visiting his farms in his homeland of Warawar in Aweil East State on 7 May 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

On Tuesday 29 May, President Kiir told the Dinka elders that he refuses the participation of Awan and his group South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) in the peace revitalization forum.

"He refused me to sign the peace you are revitalizing himself when he was the chief of general staff," said President Kiir to explain his refusal.

However, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, Awan asserted that he was the one who worked hard to persuade Kiir to sign the peace agreement that he refused to sign.

"When I was talking to Kiir in persuasion to sign the agreement that he was refusing to sign because of his personal hatred for Riek Machar; I wasn’t talking to him in a closet but before people and those present were Vice President Dr James Wani Igga, Hon. Kuol Manyang Juuk and Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial and they will attest to this as a matter of honesty," said the former old friend of President Kiir.

"The only irritated person during the signing of the agreement in Juba was Hon. Michael Makuel Lueth. He even walked out of the freedom hall in protest and if President Salva Kiir mistook me for Makuel," he added.

This is the first time that Awan speaks publicly about a famous cabinet meeting about the peace agreement. Following, this meeting the President came out to announce his rejection to sign it before to endorse it several weeks later in Juba on 26 August.

"We will sign this document, but I want you regional leaders to stand with us during the implementation because if it is left to us alone, we will spoil it," Kiir said after the signing, warning that "If our reservations are ignored, it will not be in the interest of a just peace".

"The failure of the agreement implementation is attributable to the fighting in J1 (the presidential palace). That fighting was between the two headquarters, that of Riek and his and I wasn’t there," stressed the former military leader.

However, there were reports about Paul Malong direct participation in the attacks on Machar’s residence and the headquarters of his troops after the clashes at the presidency.

The statement said Kiir’s rejection of Malong’s participation in the peace process is motivated by the fact that " the new approach South Sudan United Front/ Army would table paves his exit".

"If Kiir thinks that war is the best direction that he is designing for South Sudan United Front/ Army to take, then he will live to regret that desire," the further stressed.

Observers say that Paul Malong represents a real danger for President Kiir among all his opponents because he is the only one who can claim his place, adding that Kiir cannot mobilize South Sudan largest ethnic group, the Dinka, for his support because both belong to the same tribe.

Last April, the SSUF declared its intention to join the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and to work with them in the peace forum.

But the SSOA didn’t react to this declaration.