South Sudan President Salvation Kiir with Vice President James Wani pop the rank of Lt general on James Ajong during his swearing-in ceremony as SPLA general chief of staff on Wednesday 10 May 2017: (ST Photo)
South Sudan’s army chief of defence forces, General James Mawut Ajonga has died after months of ailment.
It was not immediately clear what caused the death, however family members confirmed to journalists that the army boss died on Friday morning in a military hospital in Cairo, Egypt.
Ajonga spent months in Kenya receiving medical attention before he was relocated to Cairo, Egypt.
Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the president received the news of the passing away of the army chief of staff of defence with shock, declaring three days of mourning with the national flag flown at half-mast.
“It is with deep sorrow and utter shock to announce to the South Sudanese the passing of a great hero of all times, a friend of mine, my school mate and brother-in-law, Gen. James Ajonga Mawut Unguec Ajonga. He passed away this morning at 4:30am (Friday April 20, 2018) at the Egyptian Military Hospital in Cairo. The President had declared 3 days mourning and the flag would be flown half-mast,” announced Ateny Wek Ateny, spokesman of South Sudan president Salva Kiir.
Ateny said preparations to return the body to the country are underway.
Gen Mawut replaced former army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan, who was removed from the office in May 2017 through a presidential order, causing tensions and standoff between him and the government before elders mediated his release to neigbouring Kenya where he recently declared forming armed opposition.
Ajongo joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the formal name of the South Sudanese military, in 1983, when the SPLA was still a rebel group fighting for independence from Sudan.