South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has asked his former Chief of General Staff Gen Paul Malong Awan to go for medical checkup instead of thinking of going back home in Aweil, Northern Bhar el Ghazel.
The South Sudanese presidency said in a statement that in fleeing to his home town of Aweil, the capital of Northern Bahr el Ghazel state, hours after his sacking, Gen Malong had abused his close friendship with President Kiir and, thus defied a presidential decree dropping him from leadership of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
“Gen Malong should have first acknowledged the importance of change and handed over the duties to the new army chief, and then asked the president for permission to leave,” reads the statement.
Gen Malong left for Aweil hours after his sacking with a convoy of a strong military force, giving speculation that he would organise from his home town and launch an attack on government. As fears mounted, emissaries were sent to the northern state and the state governor put under immense pressure to compel Malong to return to the capital where his moves can be closely watched.
Gen Malong would eventually yield and, on Saturday, he landed at Juba airport with pomp. He said it was his choice to go home and that he had “listened to those calling him to return to Juba.”
“I am somebody who is having a good family. I want to live with my family if I am not asked to do anything for the nation. I should do something for myself,” Malong said.
But on arrival in Juba, Malong was instead placed under house arrest, with his home heavily guarded and his movement restricted. Away from the canopy of his ruthless Mathiang Anyor private army, the return to Juba saw Malong’s wings clipped… at least for now.
In a meeting with Kiir, family members of the former army chief demanded his freedom of movement to Aweil. But this request, according to the the statement, has been rejected by government.
“Responding to the request of the family to the President that Gen. Malong should be allowed to go home in Aweil, the President and the delegations held that the medical attention was the priority,” the statement said, citing that “Gen. Malong had suffered serious high blood pressure” since his sacking.
In December, Gen Malong was flown to Nairobi Hospital unconscious after a diabetes attack.
During Sunday’s meeting Kiir reportedly agreed to meet Malong and “pardoned army generals and other officers and soldiers who breached the military law by accompanying Malong the night he fled to Aweil.
“That he [President Kiir] will be reflecting on the request by the delegation to allow General Malong to leave the country or to where appropriate seek further medical attention,” the South Sudan presidency said