Interviews, News

UPDATE: Gen. Malong says removal from office constitutional

Paul Malong Awan, SPLA Chief of Staff Photo: rajivgolla.com
Paul Malong Awan, SPLA Chief of General Staff

The former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA, General Paul Malong has said that his removal from the general command of the army is constitutional.

He said his removal from office is based on the rules and regulations of the army.

General Malong said a Chief of Staff could serve a maximum of four years in office.

He was relieved on Tuesday through a presidential order and replaced with General James Ajonga Mawut, who took oath of office yesterday.

General Paul Malong left Juba on the night of the decree relieving him, saying he was on his way to his hometown of Aweil.

He said he was persuaded to return to Juba after meeting the officials from Eastern Lakes state while en-route to Aweil by road yesterday.

General Malong said his departure from Juba caused panic among the civil population, and that convinced him that he should return to Juba to restore calm.

Speaking to Eye Radio from Yirol town, he said it is lawful for the President to relieve and appoint the army’s Chief of Staff –especially after he has already served the four year term.

“I don’t have any information that I am being relieved because I have a problem or because someone has a problem with me. That is not the issue. I have completed four years, in which in the system, the Chief of Staff can have more than 10 years as the Chief of Staff, if the leadership is comfortable. Otherwise, four years is the maximum. After four years, for every Chief of Staff, there must be a reshuffling. I have completed my four years,” he said.

Paul Malong said he does not want violence when it comes to pursuing power.

He said that he would have loved to continue serving the nation as Chief of Staff until total peace and stability is achieved.

He however, said he would return to farming.

“I am a peaceful person, and that is why I came out from Juba. I did not create anything. I did not kill somebody, I did not insult anybody. So people have to remain calm, because even if you have supporters, you cannot invite them into a crisis. They are not your property. I should have rest if the nation is in peace. Even right now the nation is not in peace, but I am asked to stay home. I will prepare to go and stay with my family, I am a good farmer, I think positively. My tractors are already my tractors are in the farm.”

General Paul Malong said he is currently waiting for the flight that will bring him back to Juba from Yirol.

Listen to General Malong’s full interview with Eye Radio’s Daniel Danis.

I will return to Juba

General Paul Malong Awan has confirmed that he will return to Juba.

General Malong left Juba after his removal from office on Tuesday night and went to Yirol in Eastern Lakes, where, according to the state minister of information, he went to the office of the governor.

As of Wednesday evening, he was in Yirol, but he said he would return to Juba once a plane has been sent to lift him and his soldiers.

“I am waiting for the airplane in Yirol. I will return to Juba when it comes,” Gen. Malong told a local community radio station.

I am a soldier and that I was moving with my bodyguards, so my moving with the guards should not surprise people and put them on panic,” he said.

After removal from office, he was replaced with his former Deputy for Administration and Finance, Gen. James Ajonga Mawut.

Gen. Ajonga took an oath of office at the presidential palace J1 yesterday.

“Ajonga is a brilliant officer. He is a very strong officer. He has contributed so much to this nation to get independent. I cannot be unhappy with his appointment,” Gen. Malong said.

He said the new chief of staff, Gen. James Ajonga Mawut was part of his team and they have achieved several things together.

“I was not the chief of staff alone. This means he contributed together with other South Sudanese during the struggle. Therefore, I can tell you that I did not command the army alone, he and other officers have done a lot,” he said.

General Malong also said that President Kiir has the right to remove and appoint anyone to command the army. He said he has been in contact with the president after the removal from office.