November 9, 2017, South Sudan’s powerful former military chief Paul Malong said his bodyguards will fight back in self-defence if government troops deployed around his house attempt to disarm them by force.
Kiir’s administration has sought to disarm the bodyguards of Paul Malong who is now under house arrest in Juba on fears he might leave the capital and form a new rebel group, an accusation he denies.
Malong had initially left Juba with a convoy of vehicles for his home state of Aweil following his removal in May before coming back on orders from President Kiir.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Tamazuj this afternoon, General Paul Malong Awan warned that there could be bloodshed ahead in the capital if the government fails to defuse the ongoing tensions.
“People will die if those people try to disarm us by force. Those people if we lay down our guns they will also shoot at us,” Malong said.
General Malong said that he didn’t have any personal problem with President Kiir and that he didn’t know the reasons why he is currently under house arrest in Juba. “Personally, I don’t know the reason why I am under house arrest. I was not given any written document, so I was just told to be under house arrest,” he said.
“I did not do anything wrong because I have been under house arrest for seven months. If I was guilty, I would have been taken to court, but nothing happened up to now. I was just placed under house arrest,” he added.
Malong called upon the international community to intervene and defuse the ongoing tensions in the capital. “I am a free person I do not have any problem with anyone. I am supposed to be free to do my own things. My family is in Aweil, I want to go there to do my own things. If he [Kiir] does not want me to go to Aweil which is under his control, I can go to East Africa because I have a family there. The soldiers that are with me now can go and live in the camps in East Africa. So, I and my soldiers we will live there,” Malong said.
Malong rejects meeting with Kiir
General Malong said that he had rejected a request made by a group of mediators to meet Kiir personally at the State House. “People who have problems cannot meet. Kiir has a problem with me, so if he asked me to meet him face-to-face, what does that mean?” He asked.
“I am a relieved general; I am no longer a general of Kiir. I said there is need for third party like the United Nations and IGAD to intervene. The third party should not be somebody working with the government,” he said.
However, the former army chief said he is ready to talk on the phone with President Kiir.
Malong denies links with Chan Garang
Malong has denied links with the army officer Chang Garang who recently announced his rebellion against the government. “I have no links with Chan Garang. It was alleged that Chan’s telephon conversation was intercepted when he was in Torit. It was alleged that Chan said in the telephon conversation that our plan has failed. But he didn’t mention my name Malong, so orders were given to arrest him that’s why he decided to rebel,” he said.
Malong pointed out that the community elders and government officials who are currently trying to mediate between him and President Kiir would not be able find amicable solutions to the ongoing tensions in Juba.
“They cannot solve my problem with Kiir because Kiir will not respect them because when I returned back from Yirol, Kiir asked me to return to Juba. But when I returned, I found myself under house arrest in Juba, so I believe that those people would not do anything,” Malong said.
Malong alleged that Kiir sacked some members of the peace committee that was sent to mediate between him and Kiir in Yirol in May. “Aweil governor Ruai Deng has been removed and Angun Diing who was in the SPLM party has been removed,” he said.
Malong claimed that about 19 soldiers and officers who returned to Juba together with him from Yirol town are currently under detention. “Dut Yai is now in detention, Lual Akon is also in detention and others. The number of those soldiers and officers could reach 19. All the detainees are from Aweil,” he said.
Malong, who hails from Northern Bahr al Ghazal, said his yesterday’s meeting with a group of elders led by Dr. Francis Mading Deng failed to bear fruit. “We could not reach any agreement yesterday. They said that they will go back to the president. I demanded that I should be released from house arrest so that I go home,” he said.
“What should I do here; I am not a property of anyone. I am sick but I am not allowed to leave. My daughter died and I was not allowed to go to Nairobi,” he said.
“I am being detained without any reason. If I am not wanted in South Sudan, I should go to exile and Uganda is not far. Kenya is also our neighbour.”
Malong, who was a strong ally of President Kiir, urged the people of South Sudan to embrace peace in the country, while calling upon Kiir to solve the ongoing tensions peacefully.