Three days after President Salva Kiir relieved Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), Gen Paul Malong Awan, the president has issued a statement assuring the sacked general of his security.
On Tuesday, President Kiir replaced Gen Malong with Gen James Ajongo Mawut.
Malong then left Juba for Yirol in Eastern Lakes State and was expected in the capital Juba on Thursday.
But reports from Juba indicate that he is yet to return to capital, causing security suspicion in the world’s youngest nation that has suffered a conflict pitting the political heavyweights against each other.
But on Friday, President Kiir told journalists at the presidential palace J1 that Gen Malong would be safe anywhere in South Sudan, including in Juba.
Kiir has since instructed the army to ensure that the sacked general is safe.
Here is what President Kiir told journalists:
My Fellow citizens, ladies and gentleman
On Tuesday, May 9th, I issued Republican Decree No. 76/2017 for the relief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army Chief of General Staff, General Paul Malong Awan. I also Issued Republican Decree No. 77/2017 appointing General James Ajongo Mawut as His successor.
Since the inception of our liberation movement, we have had six army Chiefs of General Staff that have served the SPLA. It is a routine procedure for the Commander-in-Chief to make changes to the national army based on the current needs. I take this opportunity to wish the new chief of Staff, General James Ajonga success in his new assignment.
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to commend General Paul Malong Awan for his valiant service to the people of South Sudan in a number of important roles. He dedicated his life to the liberation of South Sudan and remains, as one of our most senior generals and his vast experience is necessary as we continue to develop our country.
My fellow Citizens
I am aware that this change of command and the consequent departure of the former Chief of General Staff has caused some apprehension across the country.
I am here today to assure you that the security situation remains normal and all citizens are urged to continue with their daily routines.
I also encourage you to stop inciting fear through the spread of unfounded rumors through social media.
Personally, I am in communication with the former Chief of Staff, General Paul Malong Awan, and I have assured him of his safety.
All relevant security agents have been directed to carry out necessary protocols to ensure his safe return to Juba. I am confident that these directives will be carried out and that our brother will return to join hands with us in our quest to consolidate peace and stability in our beloved country.