Malong Still Under House Arrest, Says South Sudan Govt.
The government of South Sudan has clarified that former army chief of staff General Paul Malong has not been released.
He has been under house arrest for six months after being accused of masterminding ethnic sentiments in the military.
Malong’s wife, Lucy Ayak ha told VOA yesterday that her husband had been released.
But South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei on Friday said: “No, these media reports are not true. He is not released, he is in his house,”
President Salva Kiir sacked Malong who was regarded as powerful, hardline army chief in May and was replaced by General James Ajongo Mawut, a career soldier. He was also placed under house arrest after “a string of resignations by senior military officials who alleged there was ethnic bias in the army and that soldiers were committing war crimes in the context of South Sudan’s civil war”
When asked why she told VOA on Thursday that her husband was released, Ayak said she was told “by someone” that “General has been released.”
She said that after she talked to VOA, she called a number in Juba and was put through to her husband, who told her that he was fine and that “I have been in a meeting with the elders and they conveyed the message to me that I am to be released.”
Ayak said her husband told her “they will finalize the issue of my release tomorrow morning.” She said that meeting was to take place Friday morning in Juba.
Earlier Friday, government tanks and troops could still be seen outside Malong’s residence.
Although the government claimed the sack of Malong was as a result of routine change of guards, spectators believe that the rivalry between the Dinka and the Nuer largest ethnic groups in South Sudan which is historically bloody might have contributed to Malong sack.