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Aweil community demand immediate release of ex-army chief

November 11, 2017 (JUBA) - The Aweil community have issued a strongly-worded statement demanding the “immediate” release of South Sudan’s former army chief, Paul Malong Awan from detention.

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South Sudanese army chief Gen. Paul Malong Awan speaking at a Dinka Malual community meeting in Juba on 1 Novemer 2012 (ST)

The community, in a 10 November statement, warned that it would hold President Salva Kiir personally responsible should anything happen to Awan while in detention.

“If Gen. Malong dies today in Juba, then we the Aweil community will hold you personally responsible for his blood. We will also hold you responsible for bloods of those other people from Mading Aweil whom we are told are now detained for speaking out in Juba some of whom have already died reportedly beaten to death by the security operatives of Akol Kor”, the statement reads in part.

Simon Henry Angok, who described himself as president of the Aweil community in Australia signed the statement, also initialed by Atileo Deng, president of the Aweil community in Canada, Adim Malek Puot, president of the Aweil community in the United States and Garang Wel Aleu, leader of the Mading Aweil community in Egypt.

“Our community has sensed a systematic targeting of our community figures, which started during the years of struggle, early on with Benjamin Bol Akok, George Kuach and many others all of whom were murdered in cold blood when you were head of the Intelligence of SPLA. The people of Aweil in Australia, Canada, USA and Egypt strongly condemns the incident in which armed militias under the tutelage of Akol Kor, the Director of National Security, were brought to attack the resident of Gen. Paul Malong,” further reads the statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

It added, “This is unjustifiable and clear misuse of power by your government”.
The statement represents the level of frustration and an apparent anger with the manner in which the government was handling the detention of Awan, a former ally of President Kiir-turned opponent.

Observers have warned the current standoff involving Awan could spark another conflict if not handled with care and leadership.

However, the Juba government says it wants the matter concerning the ex-army chief resolved through negotiations instead of using military means, saying it would have been a question of moving in tanks and the whole issue resolved if want to use military option.

“Efforts are underway and talks are going on and because we don’t want this thing to be handled militarily, because under the normal circumstances, it would have been the question of moving in tanks and the whole issue is over,” said information minister, Michael Makuei.

“But we don’t want that to happen and this is why we are giving rooms for further contacts and intervention and we are optimistic that this issue will be addressed soon”, he further stressed.

A presidential advisor on Friday downplayed reports that circulated about release by the president of the former military chief of staff.

“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 religious leaders,” Tor Deng Mawien told Sudan Tribune.

Awan, a former ally of the South Sudan leader, has been placed under house arrest since he was sacked by the president in May 2017.