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South Sudan presidency downplays release of former army chief

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)
November 10, 2017 (JUBA)- A top South Sudanese presidential aide downplayed on Friday reports about the release of General Paul Malong Awan, former SPLA chief of staff.

Presidential adviser on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage, Tor Deng Mawien told Sudan Tribune on Friday that he was not aware of the release of the Malong.

“I have no such information. What I know is that talks are continuing. When they are concluded they will be made public and both sides will speak to the public. What is true is that the President of the Republic has demonstrated critical leadership in this matter and has made it clear that the standoff will be resolved amicably through elders and the religious leaders,” saidd Mawien.

However, Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny could not deny or confirm any information relating to the issue, saying he has no official information on the release of former chief of army staff.

The elders, he said, were still engaged in negotiations between the government and Malong and the outcome of the backdoor negotiations has not been released to the public.

The former ally of President Salva Kiir has been under house arrest since his sack and forced return to the capital last May.

A high-level source of direct knowledge of the negotiation process said several proposals have been put forward to president Kiir and Malong and they were the basis of negotiations for the past days.

“We met Gen Paul Malong yesterday and we conveyed to him the readiness of the President to allow him to go his private house. The president is also ready to allow him to go for a medical checkup if it is not what can be done inside the country. This is a good gesture and demonstration of leadership. We conveyed to Gen Paul and he welcomed it".

"The President also indicated in our meeting with him that Gen Paul Malong will have some guards left to him but the rest; especially officers will have to go to their units. The other issues will be settled amicably. This is what I know,” a source close to the process told Sudan Tribune.

The prominent Dinka elder underscored that Gen Malong will eventually be released on medical grounds.