General Paul Malong Awan with Taban Deng Gai after being awarded Doctorate of Peace by Al Neelain University
Days after his replacement, the former Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Chief of General Staff General Paul Malong Awan returned to Juba, and insisted on going back home. Malong withdrew from Juba to Yirol where he was persuaded by community leaders from Aweil and Yirol to calm down. He returned to Juba after security assurances from president Kiir.
Aweil citizens in the diaspora reportedly reacted angrily after their son was replaced at the helm of the army. They called on all sons of Aweil to abandon the army and return back home.
Days after returning to Juba and meeting the president reportedly in two consecutive long meetings, no resolution to date has been made public.
The public is still on tenterhooks waiting for the result of the Kiir Malong meetings.
Who is Paul Malong Awan?
General Paul Malong Awan Anei, a South Sudanese politician and military figure was born in the early 1962 in Warawar.
As a young man, Malong attended basic schools in his home village. After his father was killed in the late 1965s, Malong proceeded to Muglad, where he completed his primary school in 1969 in the Sudan. He had his intermediate education at St. James in Khartoum, where he participated in the clandestine formation of the Anya-Nya 2 Movement in the Bahr el Gazal area. He joined the SPLA in the early 1980s.
After CPA, he was made head of the Presidential Guards. As stipulated in the peace agreement, Malong was appointed in 2006 at the helm of National Security as one of the Deputy Chiefs for the whole country (Sudan). His main task was taking charge of South Sudan. He displayed military expertise during that process, including the building of the premises that house the current National Security offices in Juba. When the war between the South Sudan and Sudan was ignited by the tribal militias in South Sudan in December 2007, Malong was transferred to Northern Bahr el Ghazal as the State Governor because of his peculiar relations with the grassroots, particularly in the North-South border divide. Eventually, peace prevailed.
As a civilian governor, he still participated in the military affairs of the country because it has always been his field of expertise; he then won first general elections in April 2010 and became the First Elected Governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, with Aweil as Capital, the position he held till February 24, 2014.
At the advent of the December 15, 2013 crisis, Malong was shifted from his position as the State Governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal and appointed back to the military as the Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in 2014, replacing James Hoth Mai.
Malong as the second in command of the SPLA, and as a custodian of the security of the country, Gen. Malong main tasked was to command the war in defending the land against any aggressor. Gen. Malong assured the people of South Sudan that SPLA shall continue to prove that it possesses the capability, the agility and the dignity to defend and protect this country and its people with pride under the able leadership of Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
Alleged war crimes
During the 2013 fighting in juba and other parts of the country, much of the killings were allegedly carried out by a group known as “Dot Ke Beny” (Rescue the President) or “Mathiang Anoor” (Brown caterpillar), a militia of Dinkas formed for the protection of president Kiir and Paul Malong Awan. The US pushed for an arms embargo and sanctions on Machar and army chief Paul Malong Awan through the Security Council, but it failed to receive enough votes to pass in December 2016.
Malong was reportedly heard saying he does not care about the sanctions against him by the United Nations because he has lived his live and has many children to live on his legacy.
Malong is widely regarded as being the mastermind of fighting that erupted in the capital, Juba, last July killing hundreds and dashing hopes of a power-sharing government between Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar, a member of the Nuer tribe.
In December 2016, he was flown to Nairobi, Kenya for treatment in Nairobi Hospital after fell unconscious and collapsed in Juba.