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S. Sudan president says looks forward to meet ex-army chief

November 14, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan president Salva Kiir has said he looks forward to meeting General Paul Malong Awan, the former army chief after he accepted to comply with a presidential order assuring him of safety and guarantee to travel outside the country.

S Sudan's President Salva Kiir is received by former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA Paul Malong Awan at the airport in Juba March 6, 2015 (Reuters)
S Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is received by former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA Paul Malong Awan at the airport in Juba March 6, 2015 (Reuters)
“Tell Malong there is no problem. He is a brother and I look forward to meeting him. Tell him my personal assurance and guarantee for support and his safety and those with him”, President Kiir told elders on Tuesday after receiving reports that Awan surrendered his guards.

The president expressed willing to meet Awan, his former ally in politics and the military after the army issued a statement informing the public of the acceptance to surrender 18 guards to presidential guard division, Tiger. The guards will subsequently be returned to their units after complying with order of the South Sudanese leader in full.

“SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] headquarters takes this opportunity to inform the people of South Sudan and the region that the former chief of general staff, Gen Paul Malong had finally complied with the presidential order on the need to reduce and hand over additional body guards he had at his residence. Gen Paul handed over eighteen of his body guards and all heavy machine guns”, reads statement from army spokesman, Lul Ruai Kong said.

According to Koang, One 12.7 machine gun, several rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPGS) and several PKM light machine guns were among the weapons Awan has accepted to surrender.

18 guards reportedly surrendered to the presidential division for redeployment; reducing tension after the government withdrew troops around his residence over the weekend in compliance with the recommendation of the elders which president Kiir accepted and conveyed his acceptance to general command for action.

Awan, a former state governor, was sacked in May and confined at his residence in the capital, Juba.

Last week, however, attempts by government forces to disarm the former army chief’s bodyguards failed, prompting an uprising from some troops loyal to Malong.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan had expressed willingness to assist resolve the standoff between government and ex-military chief of staff.

(ST)

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