Mystery deepens after South Sudan’s army chief left Juba with chairman of Jieng Council of Elders

Juba, December 22, 2015 (SSNA) — The Chief of General Staff of the South Sudan army (SPLA) Paul Malong Awan and a few members of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) on Friday boarded a plane destined for Northern Bahr el Ghazal State and their whereabouts is yet to be determined, a confidential government source told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

The source said the whole scenario began late Thursday after it was clear that an advance team of the armed opposition led by Former South Sudanese Vice president and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny was set to arrive in Juba this Monday.

“This issue of Malong began hours after Kiir signed the IGAD-Plus peace deal in August. It is a known fact in the government that Malong is an anti-peace individual,” the source told the SSNA.

“He [Malong] simply cannot understand the fact that rebels are coming back,” revealed the source.

The source alleged that the people who left with Malong are an unnamed SPLA senior officer, leader of JCE Ambrose Riiny Thiik, and several members of the JCE, adding that Malong and the unnamed SPLA officer were picked up at the Aweil airport and drove toward his home village, Malualakon.

After they took off from Aweil airport heading to Juba, the source alleged, JCE Chairman Ambrose Riiny and other members of his controversial organization diverted the plane to Kenya.

The source also asserted that Paul Malong took a huge amount of money from military budget passed this year and no one knows why the SPLA Chief of General Staff took the money.

In September, South Sudan’s national parliament passed 2015/2016 budget of 10.3 billion South Sudanese pounds of which 80% was allocated for military.

On December 9, the SSNA reported that South Sudan’s government is divided over rebel advance team visit and that ruling elites have also divided themselves into three groups: The first group is led by President kiir, VP Igga, and foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin. The second group is headed by SPLA Chief of General Staff Paul Malong Awan and information minister Michael Makuei Lueth. The third group is being spearheaded by South Sudanese Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk. The report said group one led by the presidency wants peace to return to the country, group two doesn’t want any peace, and group three has no any real say throughout the peace talks.

Today (Tuesday), South Sudanese president Salva kiir ordered Paul Malong to report to Juba as soon as possible to start the implementation of the IGAD-Plus’s compromise peace agreement.

It is not clear if Malong will return as it is a widely discussed case here in Juba that the army Chief is not happy about the return of rebels and the presidency is not sure if he will follow guidelines required by the power-sharing deal, should he return.

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