August 4, 2017, Open letter to the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E Salva Kiir
Appeal by Gen.Paul Malong’s Wife for her Husband Release for Medical Attention
Mr. President, with humility and respect, receive my kind greetings. My name is Lucy Ayak, wife of your long time friend, comrade and commander; Gen. Paul Malong Awan, the former Chief of General staff of the SPLA. I find myself having no option rather than to use this forum to address you as my last resort since all other attempts to communicate with you have been circumstantially rendered futile. As you well know Mr. President, a young country like ours, born out of a protracted struggle, many people (sometimes entire families and clans) have had to sacrifice their brothers and sisters for the cause of liberation. Many of your comrades who started the struggle with you are no more, but the Country will forever be grateful for their sacrifices. As a wife of Gen. Paul Malong, along with his entire family, the situation we find ourselves in currently is purely precarious. I well understand that the struggle for liberation required the manpower to operate it, and to that end, I am a proud wife of one of our Country’s most decorated serviceman under your command and administration. And to that far, I consider myself lucky since many in my shoes have been widowed and their children orphaned by the brutal war that has claimed the lives of their husbands/fathers (your fallen comrades).
Your Excellency, all I could hoped for was that a time comes when my husband completes his call of duty and retires home to his family where we can raise our children in a peaceful family setting. That was my expectation when you, Mr. President relieved Gen. Malong of his duties two months plus ago. Indeed that was his expectation too, that since he don’t have official duties anymore in Juba, he could simply “go back to his home town and live peacefully amongst his people” as echoed in his own words. And yet, when he attempted to leave the city (Juba), he was intercepted, bait laid using his friends and forcefully brought back to Juba like a common criminal. With all due respect Mr. President, my husband Gen. Paul Malong, deserved better than that. He deserves to be treated with some degree of respect, because in my opinion, he has earned it throughout the struggle for South Sudan and as your comrade, I believe you know.
Mr. President, I find myself in this difficult situation where I don’t know what to expect next. As I write this piece, Gen. Paul Malong remains under “unpronounced” house arrest, under unclear and unexplained circumstances. At first, I thought it was just a political misunderstanding that would be resolved in short time. Yet, almost three months later, he remains in custody, without any statement from your office or any other government apparatus/agency. All communication channels with you have been gradually curtailed. The last time I spoke to you Mr. President, you promised me that my husband would not be harmed, and I took you by your word because I believed that you are a man that stands by your words Mr. President. But I should bring to your attention the fact that my husband is not currently in good health, as I am also sure that you well know. He has been having routine checkups and treatment both in Juba and Nairobi over the time he has been working under your command.
Your Excellency, the conditions under which he is being held, the tension surrounding his house arrest, the precariousness of his current situation have all exacerbated his health. As I articulate this, Gen. Paul Malong requires an urgent medical attention, and yet he continues to be confined without access to his doctors, or any other medical personnel. Much as I had your guarantee that he would not be harmed, I must put it to you Mr. President that denying Gen. Malong an access to his doctors is in itself as gruesome and harmful as a bullet does. I therefore appeal to your usual humanity and sense of correctness your Excellency, please allow my husband to seek the medical help he urgently needs, because it is the right thing to do to him and the family at the moment.
As a wife who has not been so much in the public life that has characterized my husband’s political and military services, I cannot claim to know the political inner workings of J1. All I know is that over the past year or so, your relationship with some of your closest comrades since the struggle (Gen.Malong included) have slowly been eroded. And even if one was to go by what has been circulated in the press in recent months, that your friend and comrade Gen.Malong had a sinister plot to overthrow the government. I can categorically tell you Mr. President, that this is false information meant to down-grade your relationship. My husband (Gen. Malong) is a military man who worked diligently and exemplarily throughout the struggle (closely with you), and even in recent years when the current brutal civil war broke out. And I can assure you Sir; my husband does not have any ill-intention towards your government that he proudly calls his. I understand that I am a biased party in this line of argument because I am his wife but consider me on this line as a wife and a citizen of your great nation too. I thus refer you to his service record Sir especially when Gen.Malong (among others) brokered in the 2004 peace in Rumbek to avoid the SPLM/SPLA split and disintegration for the love of the people of then Southern Sudan and the present day South Sudan. Throughout the struggle, throughout the arguments and disagreements that occasionally happened within the SPLM, you can bear me witness that Gen. Malong NEVER at any point, tried to sway the leadership of the struggle towards his wishes. Why then would he attempt now when the country is in a dire situation.
Your Excellency, with maximum respect, this brings a question in my mind, Mr. President; “who among the people in the inner circle at J1 benefits from your misunderstandings with Gen. Malong, one of your most trusted friends and comrades?” You will admit Sir that it’s through the efforts of Gen. Malong that there is some semblance of stability in Juba, that he was instrumental in cushioning the rebellion when it broke out in Juba in 2013 and throughout the whole time. And during that period, I am sure he has not given you any reason to distrust him not now when the war subsided. My husband Gen. Malong remains a patriotic and loyal serviceman to our nation and to you hence deserves to be treated humanely in accordance with his record of services to our country. As a wife of a living freedom fighter, my fear was losing him through the fighting that he has witnessed and participated in over the years. I didn’t think at any one time that he could survive all that and then be left to die under confinement intentionally created to deny him medical care…Mr. President will you be happy to see your friend and comrade Gen.Malong dying that way because of distracters!
I write this with all the humbleness in my bones and blood, as a wife appealing to Your Excellency and requesting, please permit my husband to go for treatment because he urgently needs it. From my conversations with him, Gen. Malong acknowledges the critical situation that our people are living in, and understands the hard work that is required to put our country back on its right footing. And he had hoped to continue serving you and the nation as we forge a way forward for our young nation. So, you can understand why a totally innocent person would be taken by surprise when he was relieved of his duties. However, Gen. Malong understands and recognizes the military hierarchy and knows that it’s your constitutional prerogative as the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces to appoint and relieve your officers as you deem it fit. To that effect, my husband understands military protocol and I assure you that he does not harbor any bad feelings for his removal.
It is my hope, as I suspect is the hope of my husband that when all the unclear circumstances that have caused these misunderstandings are finally ironed out, my husband can resume working with you at any capacity and contributes toward rebuilding our politically fractured Country. That is why I strongly appeal to you Mr. President to let my husband out of confinement and allow him seek medical attention. For all the time that my husband has been under your service Sir, he has been able to contribute towards building the country that is now South Sudan and for that I thank you for giving him the opportunity. I thank you once again Your Excellency and I hope that my humble appeal meets your kind consideration of the highest level.
The writer is a Student of Masters in Leadership and Governance from University of Nairobi, and a wife to Gen. Paul Malong Awan, the former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA, South Sudan.