Sept 9, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– On May 8th 2017, the former Chief of Staff of SPLA-IG, Gen Paul Malong Awan was sacked through a live broadcast that was announced on National Television. Upon hearing the news, the bitterly disgruntled general promptly assembled his loyal troops comprising of 18 generals and armed them with tanks, ammunition and armored vehicles.
Gen. Malong headed to the bush that night with what government officials termed as over 10 millions US Dollar with over 600 soldiers from the army general headquarters alone to stage what would have been a ground-breaking rebellion in attempt to topple President Salva Kiir from his do-or-die presidency which he struggled to maintain since the independence of the new country in 2011.
President Kiir quickly maneuvered and downplayed the seriousness of “King Paul” rebellion – a man who is known among his Dinka supporters as the most notorious Dinka general alive – but General Salva Kiir was not worried saying unless “he was a Nuer Captain”.
President Kiir ordered his loyal troops to allow Gen. Malong a free passage to evacuate the capital without disturbing a relatively small peace that UN and JMEC had built and struggled to sustain in Juba with hopes to make South Sudan looks more peaceful in the eyes of the International Community and outside world.
No single bullet was fired that night despite Malong troops’ provocative abandonment of their positions while attempting to rush and gather in Malong’s home town of Aweil and its surrounding.
Within 24 hours, however, the routes of the fleeing chief of general staff were traced and besieged by Kiir’s loyalists leaving “the King” with no better option than surrendering to a man he threatened to topple.
Malong’s rebellion was quilt without firing of a single bullet within 4 days and the Ex-chief was forcefully returned to Juba to face detention and serious charges that may include treason. Since then Malong has been begging for a chance to leave Juba but all his attempts were turned down by the “presidency” until today.
Malong has trained over 50 000 troops from his home state within the last 4 years to fight in defence of Kiir’s leadership and Jieng ideologies, a challenge that has earned him the title “King Paul”, but later on Gen. Malong lost hopes of crushing “Riek Machar’s rebellion” and instead turned his powers to intimidate Salva Kiir – barring him and his supporters from visiting the army headquarters in Juba and as well as from signing peace and ceasefire agreements.
Today, Malong’s inner circle, mostly senior generals and top security officials, are serving detention in various parts of the country and others are scattered to unknown barracks in different states. Majority of Malong’s top aids are disarmed and left vulnerable to Kiir’s camp.
President Kiir’s ethnic profiling jokes have dominated the conflict since he reigned to power in 2005.
Kiir has made similar ethnic profiling comments in the past against Equatorian generals and Dinka bor politicians.
In 2014, President Kiir cautioned a senior Equatorian General, Lt. Gen. Martin Kenyi, who defected from his government and joined the SPLA-IO that he should return to Juba saying that “the bush is not for Equatorians but for the Nuer and Dinka”.
Gen. Kenyi downplayed Kiir’s remarks and only returned to Juba in 2016 as part of the IO peace delegation to implement the August 2015 Peace Agreement that was later disrupted by another fighting in July 2016.
President Kiir’s jokes, however, are not surprising. The Nuer proved their fighting skills when 1370 bodyguards of Dr. Riek Machar and 1st Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, the Chief of General Staff of SPLA-IO, fought over 30,000 of Kiir and Malong loyal SPLA troops in the capital, Juba, and managed to evacuate all their generals and politicians from Juba unhurt and continued to fight their way for 37 days with light weapons and less ammunition until they reach DR Congo.
Kiir has demonstrated signifcant trust in Nuer generals throughout his leadership. Major battles and disarmament campaigns including the 2005-6 Abyei battles, 2012 Heglig war against Sudan, 2006-7 disarmament campaigns in Jonglei state, and internal fighting against COBRA of David Yau Yau, SSDM and SSLA were all commanded by Nuer generals and fighters.
Kiir has also used to the maximum the few Nuer generals who remained in his camp in 2013 and those who rejoined him within the last 4 years. While fighting in Unity state was dominated by the Bull Nuers, the fighting in Upper Nile and now in Lou-Nuer areas are all commanded by the Nuer.
According to Salva Kiir, although Gen. Malong played seemingly tough roles during the fighting against the SPLA-IO, Malong cannot sustain a significant rebellion claiming that his Ex-Chief of army should just look after his High Blood Pressure and forget about politics in South Sudan.
Whether Malong will return to politics, if released, is hard to predict but the today’s powerless general had once dominated politics in Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Salva Kiir supporters believe that he may try to form a rebellion and wage war if he is allowed to reach Aweil.