A South Sudanese official has mocked the country’s former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan, days after the latter announced the formation of a new rebel group.
Speaking to reporters in the capital, Juba on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny claimed General Malong was at the center of corruption when he was in charge of the military’s affairs.
“You know General Paul Malong and the issues he raised as the cause for his rebellion. All he said makes people and country feels ashamed on his behalf”, said Ateny.
He added, “The issues he [Malong] raised are the issues someone like him cannot open his mouth and talk. Who does not know that during his time in office as army chief of staff, in an attempt to conceal impunity, banks were opened at night for General Paul Malong to take money and he squandered a lot of money?”
He claimed at one moment, the Central Bank of South Sudan was opened at night and $5 million was allegedly released for military operations against the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar.
Malong announced the formation of the South Sudan United Front (SSUF), which he claimed was the only means through which he would work with compatriots to “arrest the carnage” in the country.
“Our movement is a just an urgent call to our compatriots and a struggle to first arrest the carnage that has befell our country and secondly to steer us towards democracy and development, which are the cornerstones of nationhood, an African nationhood of democracy, development, equal citizenry, justice and freedom”, he said in a statement issued on Monday.
He accused Kiir of building a nation where total impunity is the order.
“Our movement seeks to reverse this. We must build our nationhood around strong institutions and not strongmen. Strong institutions will outlive all of us and guarantee the prosperity of our nation. This is what we yearn for in our country”, stressed the ex-army chief.
Malong said his new rebel group would strive towards fighting what he described as “systemic corruption, stop the ongoing carnage, steer the country toward democracy, justice, equality and freedom.”
South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei said Malong was at “the top of corruption” and that he was the one responsible for all the atrocities the army committed in the course of the civil war.
He, however, admitted that pro-government could have committed numerous atrocities as they pursued Machar who attempted to take over power from the incumbent President Salva Kiir.
Relations between Malong and President Kiir deteriorated after the former was sacked from his post as army chief of staff in May 2017 and placed under house arrest for fear he would start a rebellion.
The ex-army chief was freed in November following mediation led by the Jieng Council of Elders. The agreement refrained him from going to his home-town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state but was allowed to travel to any East Africa country.