Juba, April 23, 2014 (SSNA) — The president of South Sudan Salva kir Mayardiit has removed his longtime army chief, Lt. General James Hoth Mia. Kiir issued a presidential decree on Wednesday removing Mai and replaced him with Paul Malong Awan. Awan is the Governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.
The president also sacked the head of military intelligence, Major General Mac Paul and replaced him with Maj. Gen. Marial Nuor. Nuor is suspected of numerous disappearances in Juba.
Mai has been loyal to Kiir for years; his removal has been interpreted by independents analysts as a sign of a new rift among the ruling elites, citing recent rebels’ military gains in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile States.
The move comes more than four months after fighting erupted in Juba late last year between units of presidential guards.
However, a well placed government source who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal told the South Sudan News Agency that the latest development is not something new, saying the plan was planned long time ago.
“President Kiir designed this plan [the sacking of James Mai and other senior military leaders] in early 2013”, the source said.
“You can call it whatever you want, but I call it the Bahr el Ghazalization of South Sudan”, the source added.
Most South Sudanese believe that Awan is responsible for recruiting and bring in to Juba young men in the cover of presidential guards. They believe that the private army that he recruited was behind the December 2013 mass killings in Juba.