May 10th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The South Sudan government said the former SPLA Chief of Staff Gen. Paul Malong Awan who is leading a semi-armed rebellion against the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardiit had violated army rules and ethics after refusing to hand over office to his successor Gen. James Ajongo Mawut who died last month in a military hospital in the Egyptian capital.
Speaking during the army flag handover to Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak, President Kiir said Malong violated an army tradition that has been in practice since the time of Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak who handed over to Gen. James Hoth Mai who handed over to Malong peacefully.
“Handing over the flag has been a common practice in the SPLA’s tradition since the former SPLA chief Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak, who handed over to Gen. James Hoth Mai who in turn handed over Gen. Malong who did not deliver the flag to James Ajongo. This was contrary to the rules and SPLA ethics,” Kiir said according to the Presidential Press Unit.
Kiir, according to the Presidential Press Unit pointed out that the war which is going on between the SPLA-IG and the one under the leadership of the former First Vice President Riek Machar, SPLA-IO, is “imposed upon us and we are defending ourselves against those who are attacking us.”
President Salva Kiir appointed Gen. Paul Malong Awan in March 2014 as the SPLA chief of general staffs after Kiir fired his predecessor Gen. James Hoth Mai. He was dismissed from the office in May 2017 after the President was advised by the country’s security Chief who believed that Malong was planning a military coup.
Malong fled to Yirol of Lakes State heading to his hometown Aweil in protest of the dismissal but was stopped and forcefully returned to the capital Juba and was put under house arrest which he remained until November 2017 after the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) negotiated his release after convincing President Kiir to release Malong on health grounds.
He was released and went to Kenya but the South Sudan’s Security Services (NSS) said it had filed a number of audio recordings reportedly portraying Malong’s voice ordering his loyalists in the SPLA to attack Juba and important towns across the country. Malong denied this but few months later formed an armed resistant movement known the South Sudan United Front and Army (SSUF/A) accusing president Kiir of looting the country to bankruptcy.
Kiir was replaced by Gen. James Ajongo Mawut who died last month in Egypt after battling an unknown illness. He was succeeded by Gen. James Jok Riak who received the military flag of the SPLA on Thursday.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.
A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1”.
The IGAD has employed an initiative called High-Level Revitalization Forum to bring back the peace agreement. Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expect the warring parties to negotiate on the last round on 17th of May. This week, the IGAD invited all the stakeholders to Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for consultations for consultations.