The once second most powerful army officer in South Sudan, Gen Paul Malong, is under what has been described as “unpronounced house arrest.”
The former Chief of General Staff, who played a pivotal role in crushing Dr Riek Machar’s armed rebellion in December 2013, is also said to be ill.
Malong is remembered for having commanded a highly trained Special Forces commando unit that saved President Salva Kiir during a heavy gun battle with Machar’s forces at the presidential palace last year.
When Machar’s forces decided to unleash more strikes, Malong mobilised choppers which bombarded the former Vice President’s bases, sending the latter’s men in disarray.
During the liberation struggle, Malong fought side by side with Kiir and John Garang until the country secured its independence from Sudan-Khartoum.
Since then, Kiir and Malong have been strong allies and friends.
It was not until early this year that Kiir received intelligence reports that Malong was planning a coup.
Malong, considered among the most influential military leaders the country has ever had, denied plans to overthrow Kiir’s government.
Kiir responded by firing him; a move that unsettled the general and his allies.
ChimpReports understands Malong chose to leave Juba. He was later called back by Kiir with whom he held discussions at the presidential palace.
A few days later, Malong decided to “go back to my home town and live peacefully amongst my people” only for his convoy to be intercepted by heavily-armed commando units.
Malong was immediately put under house arrest in Juba. For the last two months, Malong has not met with his doctors and his heath situation is said to be deteriorating.
Wife breaks silence
Malong’s wife, Lucy Ayak, denied reports that her husband harbours any ill intentions towards Salva Kiir’s government and urged the president to allow the general received medical care.
“My husband Gen. Malong remains a patriotic and loyal serviceman to our nation and to you hence deserves to be treated humanely in accordance with his record of services to our country,” said Ayak on Friday.
“As a wife of a living freedom fighter, my fear was losing him through the fighting that he has witnessed and participated in over the years. I didn’t think at any one time that he could survive all that and then be left to die under confinement intentionally created to deny him medical care,” she added.
Ayak, who currently lives in Nairobi, said her hubby has been receiving specialized treatment from Juba and Nairobi.
She wondered: “Mr President will you be happy to see your friend and comrade Gen Malong dying that way because of distracters?”
Ayak added: “I write this with all the humbleness in my bones and blood, as a wife appealing to Your Excellency and requesting, please permit my husband to go for treatment because he urgently needs it.”
Ayak admitted that her husband believes a lot needs to be done to help South Sudan regain its footing.
“From my conversations with him, Gen. Malong acknowledges the critical situation that our people are living in, and understands the hard work that is required to put our country back on its right footing,” she observed.
“And he had hoped to continue serving you and the nation as we forge a way forward for our young nation. So, you can understand why a totally innocent person would be taken by surprise when he was relieved of his duties. However, Gen. Malong understands and recognizes the military hierarchy and knows that it’s your constitutional prerogative as the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces to appoint and relieve your officers as you deem it fit. To that effect, my husband understands military protocol and I assure you that he does not harbor any bad feelings for his removal.”
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