January 8, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Monday demanded the return to the country of former army chief of staff, Paul Malong Awan, saying the response he will receive from the latter would form the basis of his decision to either consider him a rebel or not.
- President Salva Kiir, (L), accompanied by army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan, (R), waves during an independence day ceremony in the capital Juba, on July 9, 2015 (Photo AP)
Awan on Sunday vigourously denied inciting his supporters in the army to rebel as it was leaked in an audio tape with his voice. The general who was a close friend to the president openly accused the security service saying this false recoding was the latest in a series of provocations aiming to push him to rebel.
“You listened to the tape yesterday and heard the voice. You can tell me whether it was imitation or the real voice of Paul Malong. Tell me the difference between the tape, what he said in the release and all that you hear and read in the media,” Kiir said.
” I know Malong and his voice. Tell him to return to the country if what is being said about him is not true. I give you time to talk to him but not more than two weeks. If he fails, then let me know,” he further stressed in a meeting with the Dinka Council of Elders who mediated his release in November.
Speaking after the meeting, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny cited the audio tapes leaked on social media as the evidence of subversive activities in which the former chief of staff is involved. Ateny pointed to an alleged audio tape in which the ex-military leader was heard giving orders for fighting that included clashes outside the capital, Juba, last week that violated a cease-fire.
Awan said he is the one who purchased the tape recording equipment used by the South Sudan security apparatus to forge the fake recording.
He further warned that he would be forced to make a decision in the light of these constant provocations, “I would be forced to make a decision because there is a threat to my life and that of my family,” he said.
Awant was granted a permission to leave the country on medical grounds and after pressures by the Dinka elders on 20 November.
The former chief of staff was suspected by the security service of plotting to overthrow the President Kiir. He was against the signing of the peace agreement in August 2015 also, he is accused of launching an attack on the forces of the former First Vice President Riek Machar in July 2016 without referring to President Kiir.