South Sudan says visit of ex-army chief to Sudan will not affect relations

Malong at Juba airport on to receive the body of his daughter 15 Sept 2014 (ST Photo)

March 21, 2018 (JUBA)- South Sudanese government said Wednesday the visit of the former army chief of staff, Paul Malong Awan to the Sudanese capital; Khartoum will not affect relations between the two countries.

Presidential adviser on security affairs told Sudan Tribune on Wednesdays that the visit of the former army chief of staff to Khartoum will not affect the relations between the countries.

“Presence of Gen Paul Malong Awan in Khartoum will not affect our relations. Sudan is the member of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) which is now exerting efforts to find a way to end the conflict in the country. So we see Sudanese government as playing a positive role in this regard,” said Tut Kew Gatluak.

“In fact, the presence of people like General Paul in Khartoum will be an opportunity for Sudanese officials to talk to him to participate in the peace process,” he added.

Presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, told a Kenyan based The East African newspaper on Monday that the government was not surprised of the visit of Gen Paul Malong Awan to Khartoum, where he is allegedly seeking support to bolster subversive activities against the administration of President Salva Kiir.

“We are not surprised by his visit to Khartoum. The visit is an attempt to fight the government of South Sudan,” he told The EastAfrican. General Malong, according to Ateny, flew to Khartoum from Nairobi last week.

The reasons for his visit remain unclear. However, Awan is not seen in Khartoum as a close friend to the government or a potential ally. After the signing of the Cooperation Agreement in 2012, he did what he can to obstruct the implementation of the deal particularly the security arrangements that Sudan counted on to stop SPLM-N rebel cross-border supplies.

Also, he was suspected of using Darfur rebels in his counterinsurgency operation in South Sudan, a matter that angered Khartoum at the time.

However, officials in Juba have expressed concerns that the former top military officer was a strong ally of President Kiir until his sacking in May 2017 could cause political commotion ahead of the resumption of the upcoming next round of the High-Level Revitalization Forum.