August 25th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan’s former army chief turned rebel leader General Paul Malong Awan has denied reports that he is using child soldiers to fight for him.
On Thursday and Friday, fighting broke out between Malong’s South Sudan United Font/Army (SSUF/A) and the South Sudan army (SSPDF) in an area in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal state killing a senior rebel commander allied to Malong.
Government supporters and media personalities have circulated pictures of children purported to be those recruited by Malong to fight in his war against the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In respond, Malong issued a statement denying the rumor saying the reports are government ploys to tarnish the image of the SSUF/A before the people of South Sudan and the international community.
“I am reaffirming that the government of South Sudan through elements belonging to SSPDF Division 3 have gathered children and dressed them with the army uniforms as a tool of implicating SSUF/A to might have recruited children as fighting force in advancement of its agenda,” Malong said in a statement issued Saturday.
“I am reassuring the public and the international community that SSUF/A observes and respects all the international charters and especially the charters on war,” he added.
He downplayed the significance of the “propaganda” saying: “The act by the government in doing so is one of its blunt tools that wouldn’t deter SSUF/A from championing for the regime change.”