South Sudan President Salva Kiir has rejected the participation in the IGAD mediated peace revitalization process of a rebel faction under the leadership of the former army chief of staff, Paul Malong Awan.
“I hear Paul Malong want to be part of the revitalization forum. They IGAD Council of Ministers came and asked whether he should be allowed to participate in the talks. I told them Malong does not need peace. He wants war,” said Kiir.
“He refused me to sign the peace you are revitalizing himself when he was the chief of general staff,” he further underscored in remarks delivered during a meeting with the Dinka Council of Elders.
Before to be relieved in May 2017, Malong was a close ally and friend to President Kiir. It was known in Juba he was hostile to 2015 peace deal and he was accused of being behind the clashes that erupted in Juba and led to the collapse of the peace implementation.
By confirming what had been rumoured in Juba against at the time.
The growing divergence between the two men led the security service to suspect his intentions and loyalty towards the president. However, Malong always brushed aside these accusations and stressed his support to President Kiir.
“So how does the person who did not want the peace to be implemented want to be included in the same agreement he rejected? This was what I asked,” said President Kiir.
Several voices in South Sudan welcomed the inclusion of Malong in the peace process despite his heavy past and involvement in the conflict. But, others said the former chief of staff is responsible for war crimes and they want him to be tried.
Kiir told Dinka Council of Elders that he has accepted the cabinet and the parliament to be expanded instead of reduced.
“The country is today at war because some people think they should not have been removed from their positions. So if we remove those who want to be removed in order to have a small, the lean government they are talking, what will say those who will be affected? The solution is to expand the cabinet and the parliament. Was what I have told Nhial and the delegation,” he said referring to his chief negotiation and presidential adviser on foreign affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial.