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Ex-South Sudan army chief denies receiving $5m to kill Machar

April 11, 2018 (JUBA) – Allegations that South Sudan’s former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan obtained $5 million from the country’s Central Bank to kill rebel leader Riek Machar are untrue, the spokesperson of the Malong-led South Sudan United Front (SSUF) clarified.

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Former South Sudan army chief of staff, Gen Paul Malong Awan (Juba24 News)

“We are also refuting and condemning claims that 5 million dollars was given to General Malong so as to kill Riek Machar. It is untrue and thus a possible ploy meant to disintegrate the alliance formed by the oppositions against Kiir’s leadership,” Sunday de John said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The South Sudanese presidential spokesperson was on Tuesday quoted saying the Central Bank of South Sudan was opened at night and Malong allegedly obtained the $5 million for military operations.

“You can’t transaction money at night so that you use it to fight the war in the morning that is a misplaced statement manifestly meant to reveal lack of common sense. Is money bullets? For this reason, we urge the public to disregard this as "old wive’s tale", said de John.

He dismissed as false all the allegations made against Malong, which mainly ranged from corruption practices, mastery of impunity, international blacklisting and transacting in the central bank at night.

“We disconfirm such false allegations and we urge the public to avoid listening to the falsehood by a leader that has deprived them of their basic necessities,” stressed de John in the statement.

The SSUF official instead urged President Kiir’s administration to focus on building strong institutions, improving peoples’ livelihoods, developing the country and the rule of law, among other issues.

“If such things happened, Kiir should shoulder the blame and hence fit to be charged for sinking the country through incompetency”.

Malong, a former close ally of President Salva Kiir, announced the formation of SSUF, claiming it was the only means through which he would work with compatriots to "arrest the carnage" in the country.

“Our movement is a just an urgent call to our compatriots and a struggle to first arrest the carnage that has befell our country and secondly to steer us towards democracy and development, which are the cornerstones of nationhood, an African nationhood of democracy, development, equal citizenry, justice and freedom”, noted the former army chief of staff in a letter released on Monday.

He accused President Kiir of building a nation where total impunity remains in order.

“Our movement seeks to reverse this. We must build our nationhood around strong institutions and not strongmen. Strong institutions will outlive all of us and guarantee the prosperity of our nation. This is what we yearn for in our country”, stressed the ex-army chief.

Malong said his new rebel group would strive towards fighting what he described as "systemic corruption, stop the ongoing carnage, steer the country toward democracy, justice, equality and freedom."

Relations between Malong and the South Sudanese leader deteriorated after the former was sacked from his post as army chief of staff in May 2017 and placed under house arrest for fear he would start a rebellion.

He was, however, freed in November following mediation led by the Jieng Council of Elders. The agreement refrained him from going to his home-town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state but was allowed to travel to any East Africa country.

In February this year, the European Union imposed sanctions on Malong and three South Sudanese officials implicated in human rights violations and obstructions of the country’s peace process.

(ST)