June 11, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Chairman and Commander in Chief of SPLA-IO, orders his forces to give safe passage to the Mathiang Anyoor forces, who are abandoning their positions in attempt to return back home in Aweil State, formerly known as Northern Bhar el Ghazal state.
“On a second note, the Commander in Chief of the SPLA IO, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, orders all his forces to give safe passage to the Mathiang Anyor forces who want to go back to their home in Aweil from their various areas of deployment in the front lines.” Said Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the Deputy Military Spokesperson SPLA IO.
The Deputy Spokesman believes that their forces have given safe passage to Mathiang Anyoor, who abandoned their positions last month in Malakal and were allowed to pass through their controlled areas in Unity State.
“This has already started in Malakal where a good number of Mathiang anyor were allowed to pass through Bentiu to their homeland and should continue in other regions as long as it is a peaceful withdrawal.” He continued.
The SPLM/A (IO) chairman reiterates that those Mathiang Anyoor, who are abandoning their positions, are vulnerable to their colleagues who try to pursue them and should not be ambushed on their way.
When the Former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Paul Malong Awan, abandoned his position in Juba after he was removed by President Salva Kiir last month, he called on all Mathiang Anyoor, whom he recruited from his home town of Aweil to return home.
Despite that Malong was returned to the capital against his will, and is believed to be under house arrest, he has been requesting president Salva Kiir to allow him to go home to at least visit his family.
Kiir has downplayed his request fearing that the notorious general could be assembling a private army in his home town to fight back.
Gen. Malong, a former governor of Northern Bhar el Ghazal voluntarily resigned his gubernatorial position to train Mathiang Anyoor as a standby army for reasons that were never revealed.
Malong was acting in the interest of the president after Salva Kiir openly decried the huge number of Nuer soldiers in the national army fearing that his power would be taken by Riek Machar.
The project of recruiting a private army commenced in 2012 and intensified in 2013.
Despite sharp resistant at the time from the then Chief of Staff, Gen. James Gathoth Mai, President Salva Kiir strongly supported and sponsored the training of Mathiang Anyoor and one year later he replaced Gathoth with Malong.
Gen. Malong intensified the training of his private army as a replacement for the army, which then rebelled with Machar, and promised to kill or capture Dr. Machar within 30 days.
Malong’s commitment to serve the army and promises to eliminate Kiir’s political opponents made him very famous and favored in Kiir,’s inner circle; however, the general soon became arrogant and began to undermine his superiors including the president and the Minister of Defense, Gen Kuol Manyang Juuk.
For nearly 2 years, Gen. Malong operated independently with a tight grip on the army which caused rifts in Kiir’s circle as generals began to declare their loyalty either to him or to Kuol Manyang, Salva Kiir and other senior generals.
After he failed to capture Machar, Malong continued to warn that Machar will only return to Juba “over his dead body” which became a major obstacle to the signing of the peace agreement and its subsequent implementation as president Kiir fears that he could be ousted by Gen. Malong any time, not the SPLA-IO.
The rift between Gen. Malong and president Kiir intensified fear in Juba and forced President Kiir to find new friends in both his army and political class and as well as in Machar’s IO camp.
With incoming of new political brains such as Taban Deng Gai and Gen. Dau Aturjong, a sworn enemy of Malong, the notorious general’s camp was easily disintegrated, and thereafter Malong was tossed out and isolated.
Malong fled the capital in the late evening of his removal on May 9th with armored vehicles; however, he was followed into Yirol, Eastern Lake State, where he was encaged for a couple of days and prevented from proceeding to his home town.
Having hit a dead end, Paul Malong peacefully accepted to return to the capital, Juba, where a new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. James Ajongo Mawut, who is also from Malong’s hometown, was already sworn in.
He hoped that he could negotiate his way out but such hopes began to diminish as soon as he landed at Juba International Airport.
It remains unclear if Gen. Malong, nick named as “King Paul”, would ever be trusted again to command the army or his private Mathiang Anyoor under Salva Kiir’s administration.