May 15, 2017 (JUBA) – The office of South Sudan President Salva Kiir said the country’s former army chief, General Paul Malong Awan should seek medical attention as a “priority” than returning to his home state of Northern Bahr El Ghazal.
- Paul Malong arrives at Juba Airport 13 May 2017 (ST Photo)
The presidential press secretary, in a statement released on Sunday evening, said a meeting between the South Sudanese leader and four delegations representing ex-army chief, that lasted six hours, tried to seek amicable solution to the standoff.
“It was acknowledged that the attempt by Gen. Paul [Malong] to defy the Presidential Decree was miscalculated act, citing his close friendship with the President, and that he should have first acknowledge the importance of change and handover the duties to the new army Chief, and then ask the President for permission to leave,” reads the statement.
Family members of the former army chief, who attended the meeting reportedly demanded his freedom of movement to Awiel, the headquarters of former Northern Bahr El Ghazal were Malong served as a governor and remains his strong support base.
But his request, according to the press statement, has been rejected by government.
“Responding to the request of the family to the President that Gen. Malong should be allowed to go home in Aweil, the President and the delegations held that the medical attention was the priority,” the statement said, citing that “Gen. Malong had suffered serious high blood pressure while he was in Yirol.”
Kiir told reporters last week that Malong was “in fighting mood” and this affected his health.
Sunday’s meeting between President Kiir and four groups led by Eastern Lakes State governor Bor Philip Wutchok Bor, a delegation from Juba, which included Malong’s personal friends headed by South Sudan ambassador to Russia Telar Ring Tekpiny Deng, a delegation from Gogrial State led by Governor Gregory Deng Kuac and a delegation from Greater Aweil States which included Malong’s own family members was meant to iron out the differences that led to the former army chief of staff leaving the capital Juba after being fired as top army officer on Tuesday.
The president agreed to meet Malong and “pardoned those [army] generals and other officers and non-commissioned officers who accompanied Malong when he fled Juba last week.
“That he [President Kiir] will be reflecting on the request by the delegation to allow General Malong to leave the country or to where appropriate seek further medical attention,” the statement added.
The former army chief returned to Juba on Saturday to “listen to those who called him”, but insisted on “going home” in Awiel after being relieved from his duties.
He told reporters it was his “choice to go home.”
“I am somebody who is having a good family. I want to live with my family if I am not asked to do anything for the nation. I should do something for myself,” he told journalists at his thunderous reception at Juba airport on Saturday.