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Former South Sudan army chief says no regrets despite sanctions

September 12, 2017 (JUBA) - The former South Sudanese army chief of staff General Paul Malong Awan said Tuesday he has no regrets for the role he played in the four-year conflict resulting in him being put on a watch list by the United States, saying he was defending the Constitution and the interest of the country.

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SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan (C) is visiting his farms in his homeland of Warawar in Aweil East State on 7 May 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

On the 6 September, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)of the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted Awan and two other government officials for their alleged role in undermining peace and stability in South Sudan.

General Awan, a former ally of President Salva Kiir told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday he was executing his duties in accordance with the Constitution and the will of the people of South Sudan.

“Yes, I was the chief of staff and the duties of the chief of staff are in the SPLA act, which is consistent and subordinate to the Constitution. I was, therefore, executing my duties as any other chief of staff do in other countries. If this is what I am blamed for, then I have no regrets. I was doing the right thing, I know. The Constitution is there; check what the duties of the chief of staff are and tell me,” said Awan.

The OFAC blamed Awan for his role in the eruption of the conflict in December 2013 saying his action led to "the indiscriminate killing of many innocent civilians" in and near Juba. Also, he was accused of planning to undermine the August 2015 peace deal ordering attacks on the SPLA-IO position in the Upper Nile state.

According to the US administration, he ordered the 10 July 2016 attack on the residence of the former FVP Riek Machar and the base of his troops in Jebel area in Juba. The OFAC said he conducted this attack "knowingly countermanding orders from President Salva Kiir". Further, the accusations included obstructing humanitarian assistance and activities of the peacekeepers.

Also, Awan denied benefiting from the war, saying he did not acquire anything new while serving as the army chief of staff.

“People who know me knows I have not acquired anything new when took over the command of the SPLA. All the things they are talks like the house in Uganda, I acquired before I became the chief of staff. It was way back, long time ago. The documents are there for people to see,” he said

The sacked general said he was now a normal citizen and should be allowed to tend to his private life than continuing to associate him with public affairs.

Last May, President Salva Kiir relieved Awan from his position as army chief and put him confinement in Juba. Recently, he denied allowing him to travel to Nairobi after the death of his daughter there.