Contributor's Lucy Ayak Opinion

Does Ateny Wek Ateny Speaks For Presidency or Gen. Paul Malong’s Family?

By Lucy Ayak,

August 11, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– A couple of days ago I authored an appeal in form of an open letter to President Salva Kiir, asking him to allow my husband to seek medical attention abroad. The appeal was published on change.org, paanluelwel.com and other media outlets. As I had stated in the appeal, that since May when my husband was relieved of his duties in the National Army, he left Juba to avoid escalation of tensions. But he was blocked in Yirol while on his way to Aweil forcing him to return to Juba. Since then, Gen. Malong has been held under confinement without any official public statement concerning his restricted freedom. The restriction on his movement comes against the backdrop of doctor’s advice for specialized treatment as a matter of urgency. Perhaps the service his condition requires is not available in Juba.

Mr. Ateny’s response to my appeal accusing me of ‘international attention seeking and having fun’ was by itself full of inconsistencies. In regard to Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny’s (presidential spokesperson) respond, I wish to address some of those inconsistencies as follows:

Politicizing My Appeal

Firstly, I wish to make this clear that my appeal was not made on political grounds or to gather any international support whatsoever as Mr. Ateny alleged. I am not a politician nor interested in politicking; I rather made that appeal on personal grounds as a responsible mother and wife. Factually, it is Mr. Ateny’s response that was characterized by political sound-bites intended to divert the public and international community attention away from Gen. Malong right to life. My husband’s house arrest is not a secret anymore. Many South Sudanese in Juba are aware about this reality. Mr. Ateny statement, therefore, amazes sense of reasoning as one may wonder if his stated position is a confirmation of the government plans to keep my husband’s confinement a secret. More so, it seems that the government is not alarmed about Gen. Malong’s health condition; this also confirms my feeling that some elements in the government premeditatedly subject him to reeling under house detention without access to medical care. Since my husband was returned to Juba in May, he has not made any public appearance whatsoever; with the exception of the picture released by J1 of him and President Kiir shaking hands in what Mr. Ateny nonchalantly calls “reconciliation.”

My appeal was delivered via on-line fora because I have been cut off from any communication with the President concerning my husband’s well-being, not to seek attention as Mr. Ateny ignorantly suggested. Mr. Ateny, I humbly invite you to re-read my appeal carefully, I did not ask the president to pardon my husband as you alleged in the interview with Eye Radio. As far as I know, Gen. Malong has not committed any offence to be pardoned. If he did, then the government should come out clearly with such news and state it openly for public consumption.

Mr. Ateny, you said in your interview with Eye Radio that I am having fun and seeking attention. There isn’t any attention seeking in asking for my husband’s access to medical treatment or his children rights to access their father.  You have gone a notch higher and consequently; I am nerve touched and offended by your shear and high degree of arrogance presented in your statement. As a responsible and caring wife, it’s my responsibility to ensure that my husband is in good health. By alleging that am having fun by stating that my husband needs medical attention, Mr. Ateny attempts to persistently go far and present me as a careless woman who takes her husband’s health as a joke. That is pretentious and hilarious to paint me with such a picture for advocating for my husband’s right to life. I am not a careless woman who takes fun out of my husband sickness. Much as you attempt to discredit my character, I am a woman of substance, and people know that what I am talking about is an outright truth. People have been putting dots together since day one and they are listening, and I suggest that it seems to be the real issue scaring you and trap you into uttering such blatant lies. It might be exciting you to see Gen. Malong to be house-detained in secrecy but mocking my husband cannot be a panacea to your personal struggles.

Gen. Malong’s Detention

Since May, word around Juba has been that Gen. Malong is under house arrest, albeit; unofficially. When my lines of communication with the President were gradually curtailed, fear dilated my spine that perhaps the government intends to hold my husband indefinitely without any public statement or due process. And now I realize my fear was not unfounded after all. My husband’s confinement has until three days ago when the media fully learned; had been compounded in secrecy, and as long as government was not compelled to publicly address it, it seems J1 was contented on keeping it that way. But I wish to inform Mr. Ateny that my husband has been an exemplary commander and has achieved merit throughout his services. You cannot deny him medical attention and hope that he dies slowly and quietly under house arrest you “premeditatedly” wished.

As to whether Gen. Malong is not in good health, Mr. Ateny again entrenches himself as a spokesman for my family (Gen. Malong’s) and went so far to state that he “doesn’t think Gen. Malong is sick,” and that Gen. Malong “has not come out to complain that he wants to go out of the country for treatment.”

Like any other responsible and caring wife, it’s my responsibility to know and ensure that my husband is in good health, and indeed everyone would expect that I would be the first person to know if he is not in good health, not Mr. Ateny or anyone else for that matter. I am dismayed that in his generosity with falsity, he failed to take into account something as basic as that. It doesn’t require a rocket science for Mr. Ateny to understand such basic facts.

Gen. Malong’s Health

Sick Gen Paul Malong Awan when visited last year on his hospital bed in Nairobi, Kenya. Malong's health continue to deteriorate in detention(Photo: file)
Sick Gen Paul Malong Awan when visited last year on his hospital bed in Nairobi, Kenya. Malong’s health continue to deteriorate in detention(Photo: file)

When Gen. Malong was brought back to Juba, during that ‘reconciliatory handshake’, he told the president about his ill-health and a doctor was flown in to examine him, after which the doctor advised that my husband should see a specialized doctor at the earliest possible opportunity. That advice hit the rock and has been ignored to this day. Again, I put it to you Mr. Ateny, who is lying and seeking attention here? The fact is, Gen. Malong is under detention with no access to any media outlet leave alone medical attention. So, how is he supposed to say if he wants to go out for treatment or not? How much of my husband’s health could you know when you have never been in contact for three or more months? As I listened to Mr. Ateny’s interview on Eye radio, I notice that he struggles to sound truthful, and to that effect he bluntly and terribly becomes generous with untruthfulness.

The fact that no statement of any kind ever been released about my husband’s confinement for the past three months is in itself compelling and telling. Am tempted to assume that Mr. Ateny and others like him thought that a man of Gen. Malong’s stature and nature would be swept under the rug and locked away without anyone noticing, if that was the case, it was wishful thinking on your part Mr. Ateny. Gen. Malong together with others have done a lot for South Sudan and he cannot by any means just be silenced and shelved away like a common criminal, and your attempts to simply deflect my concerns as mere ramblings speak to your arrogance Sir.

It seems there are forces surrounding the president that are bent on ensuring that my husband remains in detention without even being given a chance to defend himself if any. If anyone feels that my husband is at fault over anything, they should come out clearly and explain it.

My suspicion is that this is not the doing of the President, but rather, the sinister plots of some people in the corridors of power in J1 who want to keep Gen. Malong locked up so as to isolate him and ruin his long-term relationship with the president, which by all means will fail. Therefore, much as I initially made a humble personal appeal to the president for his release; as a wife, I now demand that the government come out and clearly explain why my husband cannot move anywhere, why he cannot be allowed to get treatment, why is our home in Juba surrounded by SPLA forces? If indeed he is a free man as Mr. Ateny asserted? Let him go abroad to seek medical service. If my husband has committed a crime of any sort, come out clearly, state it and charge him for it, or else release him immediately.

On Uncle Awet Akot’s views on Sudan tribune

With high level of respect for Uncle Awetdit as a founding member of the ruling party (SPLM) and as a living veteran, I need to address his views published on Sudantribune.com two days ago. I would have not response to Uncle Awetdit’s views but since it seemed to confirm as if Mr.Ateny was right, then I have to. Let me quote uncle Awetdit verbatimly, he said “there have been reports and people calling to inquire whether Paul Malong has been arrested and my answers were no, I am not aware. I decided to ask the president and he told me no, he had not ordered any arrest for Malong.” He continued to say “the president told me that he did not receive any report about his health. If he was sick, the president would have been informed, there are people with him.” Said Uncle Awetdit.

I failed to put my words better to address the views of the veteran; I wish he was a young person so that I can be free to dissect his views well. Better still, I am grateful that he was not aware and he is now aware. Secondly, why is it hard for Uncle Awetdit to visit Gen.Malong and come back with tangible information whether his comrade is under detention or otherwise. Uncle Awetdit should know that I am never interesting in politicizing anything moreover health of my own husband. I expect Uncle Awetdit to be the first to complain why his comrade is unofficially detained than taking the journalistic job of rocking the media and left the truth behind him or I suggest he might be among those who wish Gen.Malong to die of sickness on his own under secret detention…that will never happen.

The writer is a student of Leadership and Governance at the University of Nairobi, and wife to Gen. Paul Malong Awan, former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA.

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