South Sudan urges world to bar ex-army chief from joining peace talks

JUBA,  — South Sudan on Tuesday urged the international community to bar the former army chief Paul Malong who has rebelled against the government from participating in the upcoming third round of peace talks mediated by regional leaders.

President Salva Kiir’s spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny told journalists that the ex-army chief was corrupt and peace spoiler who should not be given audience at the next round of the peace talks under the regional body Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia.

“The office of the president rejects all the allegations leveled against the president by a war monger. We also urge the international community represented by the African Union, UN, EU and the East African Community to deny Malong any position in opposition when he was part and parcel of the political crisis as member of government since 2013,” Ateny said in Juba.

The ex-army chief on Monday formed the South Sudan-United Front (SS-UF) rebel movement seeking to overthrow President Kiir’s Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

The former Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) chief criticized president Kiir for plundering the country’s resources and grounding the economy.

But Ateny said Malong lacks the moral authority to criticize the government of corruption and yet his tenure at the helm of the SPLA was characterized by corruption and disrespect for the rule of law.

“As Chief of General Staff of the SPLA for three years Malong in an attempt to conceal impunity squandered millions of U.S. dollars in disguise for security operations, banks were opened at night to allow Malong to take the money at whim which in turn polarized the government,” Ateny disclosed.

Malong was sacked in 2017 and later on released from house arrest in Juba in November 2017.

He signed an agreement with the government allowing him to seek medical attention in the East Africa region but violated the very agreement after he visited the Sudanese capital Khartoum recently which alarmed the government.

Ateny said President Kiir was vilified by the whole world for being close to Malong whom he described as war monger, citing the fact that he was sanctioned by the United States and UN for fanning violence and obstructing peace.

“Malong was against peace agreement on resolution of conflict that’s why he staged almost three attempted coups but were flattened because of the intelligence. He attempted to take over the leadership by force because he did not want peace agreement to be signed,” Ateny said.

Ateny added that any new rebellion against the Juba government is an attempt to slow down the peaceful resolution of conflict.

Malong was widely regarded as a key ally of Kiir after he mobilized an ethnic militia to fight for the Kiir administration.

Human rights groups have on several occasions accused Malong and his militia of committing atrocities on civilians across the war-torn country.

The former army chief is also among three South Sudanese officials sanctioned by the United States in and Canada last year for allegedly obstructing peace efforts and benefiting from the ongoing civil war.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after President Kiir sacked his former deputy Riek Machar, leading to fighting between mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir and ethnic Nuer soldiers loyal to Machar.

The violence has killed tens of thousands, leaving four million people living as refugees in neighboring countries.

The efforts by regional leaders to revive the 2015 peace agreement shattered in the wake of renewed violence in July 2016 are yet to bear fruit as they have been indefinitely suspended after the warring parties failed to make headway.


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