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S. Sudan army says associates of ex-army chief fled to Sudan

January 1, 2018 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese army (SPLA) admitted on Monday that associates of General Paul Malong Awan, the former army staff of staff fled the country to neigbouring Sudan.

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Former South Sudan army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan speaks at the presidential palace in Juba, November 16, 2017 (ST)

Lieutenant General Santino Deng Wol, commander of the ground forces told Sudan Tribune that the former Aweil North county commissioner and his Madhol county counterpart fled the country.

The two former officials, according to the army officer, were still in active list in the army with ranks of colonel and lieutenant colonels.

“It is true we have received a report from local people that former Madhol county commissioner Manut Yel Lual and former Aweil North county commissioner Kuol Athuai Hal, are not in the area. We are told they fled the country to an area called Merrem in Sudan,” said Wol.

He added, “We don’t know the reason. The local authorities are investigating the cause”.

The official did not, however, hint on what the army would do to assure the deserted officers of their safety.

In November last year, a South Sudanese military commander said he had defected with more than 200 soldiers to the country’s largest rebel group, amid a showdown between President Salva Kiir and the country’s former military chief of general staff.

Lt. Col. Chan Garang, an ally of Awan, said he defected to fight President Kiir’s regime.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst violence since the young nation seceded from Sudan in July 2011.