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INSIDE STORY: Why Kiir Sacked Malong, Failed Assassination of Taban

President Kiir with Gen. Paul Malong (R) recently.
President Kiir with Gen. Paul Malong (R) recently.

    By: Dickens H Okello

  • May 14,2017
  • 1722 Viewed

The attack on the convoy of First Vice President, Taban Deng on Tuesday was a planned assassination to frame army Chief Gen. Paul Malong, arrest and kill him in a staged rescue.

Trouble between President Kiir, Malong and Intelligence Chief, Akol Koor stemmed from plans to deploy SPLA in Bor.

The sacking of SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen. Paul Malong on Tuesday evening was expected but also an audacious move by President Salva Kiir.

Since his appointment during the height of internal war in South Sudan in early 2014, Malong became so powerful in the army, trimming the influence of then Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juk.

It is widely believed that Malong was positioning himself to succeed Kiir due to his vast influence in the army.

Malong’s influence has undoubtedly been a challenge to those near the president and definitely Kiir himself.

This investigative website received and has been corroborating reports from intelligence sources in South Sudan and the region since Tuesday night.

Genesis of the trouble

According to a source at the National Intelligence and Security Service, the insecurity in Bor over tribal struggle between Murle community and Jonglei youths, caused disharmony between Kiir and Malong.

President Kiir reportedly issued a memo ordering  the deployment of SPLA in Bor since Jonglei youths had refused to withdraw from Murle tribe territory.

Malong ignored the order and instead asked Kiir and the Director of National Intelligence Security Service in charge of Internal Security Bureau, Lt. Gen. Akol Koor Kuch to leave the matter to him.

A crisis meeting was immediately called by the president at the presidential palace commonly known as J1.

The meeting became so hot, generating serious verbal exchanges between Malong and Akol as Kiir watched them in disbelief.

Malong reportedly picked his small stick from the table and hit Akol on the shoulder though the aim was his head.

The meeting then ended without a resolution.

Assassination plot

After the open show of arrogance and power by Malong, a general in the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) was reportedly given orders from “above” to “handle” the belligerent army chief.

We have withheld the name of the NISS general for security reasons.

The visit of the First Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng to the same area (Bor) was due and hence the great opportunity to also get Malong.

The NISS strategists and operatives quickly arranged a plot to take out Taban Deng in a planned shootout and immediately release a report blaming Malong for the incident.

Malong would later be arrested and detained for killing the First Vice President.

A choreographed rescue attempt by the pro government militia, Mathiang Anyor who were largely recruited and trained by Malong, would happen, spark a deadly shootout and the latter shot in the struggle.

Malong reportedly got the intelligence and tried his best to foil the assassination.

“He was lucky to get the intel before its execution. I think it’s beyond luck,” a source in NISS told ChimpReports.

On Tuesday morning at exactly 10:00am, the convoy of Taban Deng moving to Bor was attacked between Tameza and Sudan Safari area.

The official report from government said 3 bodyguards were wounded but according to sources about 2 dozen soldiers lost their lives.

“Bodies were littered everywhere. There was serious blood bath in about a football field (area),” the source who reached the scene some minutes after the attack said.

“It was a short lethal combat exchange. The attackers disappeared without a trace and no one was picked.”

Taban Deng on Tuesday didn’t use his convoy but instead took a plane to Bor. The change in the plan was reportedly made Tuesday early morning.

Meanwhile, Malong had started ferrying arms from the army headquarters in Bilpam, Juba to his home area in Aweil, immediately he got the intelligence to terminate his life.

The armory in Bilpam is now said to be “almost empty”.

“Guns have moved from Bilpam to Aweil. It’s a difficult situation for Kiir now,” a source at army headquarters said.

Malong left Juba on Wednesday early morning without handing over to his successor or communicating to Kiir.

Kiir confirmed in a press conference at J1 on Thursday that he had to initiate communication with Malong and ask him to return to Juba.

“Personally, I am communicating with the former Chief of Staff, General Malong,” Kiir said.

Succession

The original 3 allies of Kiir who were believed to succeed him after his departure are former Foreign Affairs Minister, Nhial Deng, Malong and Akol Koor.

Since December when Malong’s influence became a source of tension in the Juba regime, the succession talks zeroed on Nhial Deng and Akol.

It is now largely believed that Kiir wants the intelligence chief, Akol Koor to succeed him and he has been the first general to openly talk bad about Malong after latter’s sacking.

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