Malong has returned to Nairobi after short visit to Khartoum

South Sudan's former army chief Paul Malong addresses the media after returning to the South Sudan's capital of Juba, on May 13, 2017 (Reuters photo)

MARCH 22, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – A South Sudanese opposition leader Thursday confirmed the departure from Khartoum of the former South Sudanese chief of army staff, Paul Malong Awan.

The brief visit of the general to Khartoum was shrouded in secrecy as the security authorities prevented the media or other South Sudanese opposition leaders present in the Sudanese capital from reaching him.

However, it was purported that he met in Khartoum with the First Vice President Bakri Hassan Salah and the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Gosh.

The Secretary-General of the National Group for Peace Support, Stephen Lual, who is based in Khartoum told Sudan Tribune that “General Malong will participate in the revitalization forum within the framework of the peace process in South Sudan, which is scheduled to resume next April.”

Lual stressed that Awan left Khartoum for Nairobi where he is currently, adding that the former chief of army staff has nothing to do with any claims and accusations coming from Juba.

Malong is not perceived as a possible ally to the Sudanese authorities who wanted him to leave the capital as soon as possible, according to multiple sources. Also, Sudan has no interest to support him or other South Sudanese rebel faction in line to a deal signed with Washington.

However, some South Sudanese officials went to speak about Malong’s plans to organize a rebellion from West Kordofan or East Darfur which are not far from his home area in western Bahr el-Ghazal region.

Lual said Malong returned to Nairobi via Addis Ababa, adding that Aweil’s sons like Malong have no valid passports because the government cancelled it.