Malong kicks out generals after their ‘Nairobi coup’

Malong kicks out generals after their ‘Nairobi coup’
Paul Malong, chairman of South Sudan United Front/Army. [Photo: Courtesy]

Former army chief Gen Paul Malong Awan has been deposed as leader of the South Sudan United Front/Army [SS-UF/A] in a weekend coup staged by the party’s military officers and members.

A group of 13 generals and senior members of SSUF/A announced the ouster of General Malong in a ‘Nairobi Declaration’ issued in the Kenyan capital on Saturday.

Led by Maj. Gen. Dickson Gatluak Nyoat, the party’s deputy chairman, the group said they deposed Gen Malong because of his ‘incompetence and lack of vision’ for the party.

“General Paul Malong has demonstrated incompetency and a lack of vision. “He does not have any clear strategy on how the crisis should be addressed in the Republic of South Sudan,” the group said in a five-page statement seen by The City Review.

The new leaders said they will seek a dialogue with President Salva Kiir’s administration in order to reach a peaceful resolution of their differences.

“We, the undersigned leaders and members of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SS-UF) – Nairobi Declaration, would like to seize this golden opportunity to apprise the public, predominantly South Sudanese at large, that from today 28th January, 2023 henceforth, we have taken over the leadership of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SS-UF/A) and agreed enormously to dismiss General Paul Malong Awan from the movement and opted to embrace the spirit of homegrown political dialogue with the Revitalized Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) under the leadership of H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit,” the leaders said in the statement issued on January 28, 2023.

However, Gen. Malong in quick response, dismissed five of the members behind his ouster including Gen Dickson Gatluak Nyoat, accusing them of ‘betrayal and conspiracy to weaken the party’.

“With your approach to entry into negotiations with Juba regime is betrayal and conspiracy from you to weaken SSUF/A and as a futile attempt to undermine the leadership which prompted this end to take this decision,” Gen Malong said in a statement seen by this outlet.

“In light of this gross misconduct, that I, General Paul Malong Awan, commander in chief and chairman of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) duly informed by these facts, ordered the above cited members from the ranks and files of the SSUF/A according to article 20.7 of the [party’s] constitution,” Malong said.

Gen Malong formed the SSUF/A in 2018 after breaking ranks with President Salva Kiir after he was relieved as chief of general staff.

After obtaining permission to go for treatment in Kenya following house arrest, Gen. Malong declared rebellion against the government as the leader of the SSUF/A.

Following the signing of the peace agreement in 2018, SSUF/A and several other groups formed the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA) in 2019 as umbrella to negotiate peace with the government under the mediation of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome, Italy.