General Malong: Savior or Spoiler?

By Deng Vanang, Dares Salaam,

Gen Paul Malong Awan, former SPLA Chief of General Staff and the current commander-in-chief of a new rebellion(Photo: file)

Gen Paul Malong Awan, former SPLA Chief of General Staff and the current commander-in-chief of a new rebellion(Photo: file)

April 15th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– Disembarking homestretch from government to opposition politics on 9th April 2018, General Paul Malong Awan Anei cited all the formal derogatory adjectives every betrayed and angry politician hurls at his erstwhile master when switching allegiance.

The anti-thesis he once cherished to democratic values he currently embraces in his new life that is not completely unknown to him.

He travelled this path before from Anyanya Two to SPLM/A as one of cosmic colossuses that traversed breadth and width of South Sudanese bloodied history unscathed for the last 40 something years and still counting.

Being the embodiment of the good and ugly of the new country’s liberation wars, his martial prowess was most notable in underground establishment of Bhar el Ghazel cell of Anyanya Two in late 1970s immediately after completing Secondary education. There under cover he stubbornly engaged in hide and seek game to evade government’s ever closing in on dragnet. Until the newly established SPLM/A in Ethiopia in 1983 immediately rushed for his rescue that offered his throbbing heart a final sigh of relief.

His integration into the newly organized armed insurgency as Captain after cadet officer training in 1985 in Ethiopia saw him sail through the ranks.

A journey which eventually clawed within his reach a fiefdom he ruled with an iron fist of a tyrannical King he is now as King Paul in Northern Bhar el Ghazel home region.

Under whose spell and tight grips all resources beneath and on the surface, including human beings, fell as the self-ordained administrative Governor and chief tax collector of Warawar cross border trade hub respectively.

It is from this goldmine he partly ill-acquired an army of more than 80 wives some of whom at gunpoint, hundreds of children and thousands of grandchildren all taken care of on commandeered relief food and extorted local taxes while in later years on State’s expenses.

Inarguably a coveted success story by any Nilotic standard, while a deprivation to many and a scourge of globally desired good democratic governance.

From obscurity of Warawar, Malong had his long shot into national limelight following the sudden death of veteran guerrilla leader, John Garang in a plane crash.

Particularly at a time he alongside his colleague General Anthony Bol Madut remotely held the reins of succession as senior members of SPLM/A leadership Council converged on new site near Kenya border to select a new leader.

Closing all the entrances and exits to their region, the duo tacitly declared it was Salva Kiir Mayardit to succeed late Garang or the dreaded Armageddon.

His loyalty eventually paid off when appointed to Northern Bhar el Ghazel State ’s formal governorship and one into which he allegedly rigged himself later in 2010 election against his main rival, General Dau Aturjong.

The two sworn political rivals already swapped sides ever since, with Aturjong returning to the government as Malong dashed head over heels to the armed opposition the former had abandoned. In the said governorship he arrogated himself the sovereign powers of both executive and judicial authority. With executive powers he turned State budget into his own personal pay slip, transformed female civil servants into compound cleaners of his expansive residential mansions as well as sanctioned state and national political appointments to build a loyal patron-clientele network at home and away.

While he lavishly used judicial powers to deliver corporal punishments to constitutional post holders apart from deporting the rest to unknown Siberias at merciless will.

Malong again wadded into succession foray in early 2013 when Dr. Riek Machar voiced interest in Kiir’s presidency come 2015 first post-independence general election. Following which he was publicly quoted in Bhar el Ghazel regional conference held in Wau as saying ‘’being number two doesn’t mean you can assume number one.’’ A thinly veiled reference to then Vice President Dr. Riek Machar who wanted to climb up to number one as President.

The same reference spelled a stark condemnation of Machar to Vice Presidency till death do him part, while an open admission that Presidency has its reserved owners for taking.

It is this ethno-ideological note of born to rule and not to be ruled that prompted Malong to embark on vindictive military campaign through recruitment of Dinka ethnic cattle herders into armed militias famously referred to as Mathiang’ anyor and Gelweng.

Simply to stop one Riek Machar from succeeding Kiir, an act that culminated in an historic Nuer massacre in Juba. And whose resultant hate propelled him in April 2014 to SPLA’s Chief of General staff position, despite grudgingly remaining Northern Bhar el Ghazel State’s de facto Governor. A position he ruthlessly used to turn the tide against surging Nuer rebels who in equal measure viewed him as a merciless mass killer of their people as well as spoiler to ever illusive leadership ambition in the country they determinedly pursue.

While to his fellow Dinka ethnic nationalists, he is not only a glorified savior and one who avenged the death of their kith and kin by Nuer in Bor back in 1991, but also the courageous defender of their openly declared political supremacy and economic privilege under siege of multiple threats.

This godly adulation waned when he crossed the famous Kiir’s red line so as to forcefully succeed the latter in 2017, an unflattering idea to most Dinka.

Now with UN’s noose of a war criminal tightened around his neck, dilapidating age and blood stained name of Biblical Saul conspiring against him, then what valuable asset an enigmatic Malong carries along to his newly found political refuge?  

The author of several books, Deng Vanang, is a graduate of the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya with a bachelor degree in Philosophy and political sciences. He got awarded with undergraduate diploma in public relations and management at Kenya school of exports and imports in Kenya. And in later years secured a post-graduate diploma in print media journalism from the University of Nairobi as well as a post-graduate diploma in peace and development studies at the University of Juba, among several short courses certificates in both information and governance from East African region and Republic of South Africa. He once served in SPLM/A during the war of liberation as political commissar and other political groupings in the post-war period. He became a Director in GoSS’ Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Juba until 2010 while serving as the columnist with various newspapers before and after the December 2013 conflict erupted. He can be reached via his email: dvanang@gmail.com


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One comment

  • GatNor

    Some Jaang derogatorily say Nuers are prone to rebelling. Malong use to give ultimatums datelines to capture Dr. Machar to end the resistance. The same forces of Mathiang Anyoor, Dut Ku Bany and the Guelwengs who participated in the door to door search and execution of Nuers with orders from Malong and Kiir are now used as hunting and search and destroy dogs against Malong. Its quite interesting how things change so quick.

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