Fallen S. Sudan CDF: Who Was Gen. James Ajonga

South Sudanese Chief of Defense Forces Gen. James Ajonga Mawut has Friday morning breathed his last in an Egyptian hospital where he had undergone a kidney operation.

Gen. Ajonga started his military career in 1984, when he was among a group of South Sudanese students who abandoned their studies at Rumbek Senior Secondary School and took to the bush to join the recently founded Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

A son of a son of paramount chief Mawut Unguec Ajonga, the general comes from the Luo tribe, also known as Jurchol, one of the minority tribes in South Sudan.

He was married and had children.

Gen. Ajonga studied at Bugo Village Primary School for lower primary before going to Aweil Intermediate from where he joined Rumbek S.S.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Busoga University in Uganda and before meeting his death, he was pursuing a master’s degree course in humanitarian law at the University of Great Lakes region in Kisumu, Kenya.

Ajonga was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the SPLA in 1984, after passing out of the military training known as shield one, equivalent to a military command course in a conventional army.

He was deployed after the training as part of Jamus Battalion, where he rose through the ranks and held various command assignments in different places in Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal.

Rise to the top

Gen. Ajonga was appointed by Presidential order to head the South Sudan armed forces in May 2017, replacing Gen. Paul Malong Awan, who left Juba after he was fired by President Salva Kiir.

Malong would later refuse to hand over office to the deceased after being blocked from continuing with the journey to his home region of Aweil.

President Salva Kiir however told his Gen. Ajong to assume his duties, and Ajonga took over the office without any briefing from his predecessor.

A few days after his appointment, Ajonga acquired a new job title as part of an army restructuring decreed by Kiir.

Whilst his predecessor Malong had been SPLA Chief of General Staff, Ajonga was restyled ‘Chief of Defence Forces’.

He served in this capacity until Friday April 20th when he met his demise.

Prior to his appointment as Chief of Defence Staff, General James Ajonga was the deputy chief of general staff for finance and administration.

He moved into the position from the directorate of military operations, where he was deputy chief of general staff and served as the operational commanding officer at the rank of major-general before being promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general.


Koch Madut