JUBA – South Sudan’s former army chief and leader of holdout opposition South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) General Paul Malong Awan has denied reports that he has accepted to return to Juba to join the revitalized peace agreement on conditions that certain individuals must first be removed as ministers.
This comes after reports alleged on social media that the powerful opposition leader is weighing for return to the capital after he has allegedly been approached by unnamed security agents asking him to drops from Rome talks to return to Juba so that the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) to which Malong is a member is weakened.
However, in a statement this afternoon, Chol Duang, Malong’s media official, termed the reports as propaganda aimed at tarnishing the image of the SSUF/A leader by people he said are worried by the ongoing talks between Malong and the government in Italy.
“The office of the Chairman has learnt of a large scale propaganda sponsored against the personality of Gen. Paul Malong Awan by some National Security elements competing for power in Juba,” the statement extended to Sudans Post reads in part.
“These elements have desperately alleged that Gen. Paul Malong has secretly asked for removal of certain ministers and two Vice Presidents of the R-TGONU as a condition for his return to the country. However, such campaign is solely intended to spoil the peace process that’s underway in Rome. SSUF/A Chairman and C-in-C is not part of the R-TGONU and did not sign the R-ARCISS to be meddling in the internal power struggle in Juba,” the statement added.
The statement said Malong “is still outside the country negotiating a just peace for the people of South Sudan.”
“Unfortunately, some people we know have been restless since Rome- mediated talks began. These individuals have led a smear campaign against Gen. Malong out of fear that he would bring stability to the disadvantage of crisis profiteers who enjoy the suffering of our people.
“The Chairman stands with South Sudanese in these challenging times and assures them of his commitment to seeking a lasting solution for peace, security and development.”