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South Sudan army units defect over arrested army General

JUBA – Some units of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) led by high-ranking officers have defected following a failed attempt to forcefully free former powerful army chief, General Paul Malong Awan, who has been placed under house arrest since his removal mid this year.

Quoting military sources, the Sudan Tribune, reported that the continued incarceration of Gen Mlong has sparked tension and fears that the army could be divided.

The number of the troops believed to have defected from the army, however, remains unclear and there are conflicting accounts and information about names of the officers who have defected.

There were reports that some of these dissenting officers fled to an unnamed neighbouring country, where they hope to declare their positions on this matter.

The newspaper quoted Lt. Col. Chan Garang and Major Aguer Atak Ariik who have openly made known their decisions and moved out of Juba following the failed attempt to free Awan from house arrest.

Lt Col Garang told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that he was no longer taking orders from General Ajonga Mawut, the army chief of staff who replaced Awan following his appointment by the president in May.

“This is the moment of change. A new dawn for our country, the direction the country is going is not clear. Instead of recognizing the patriotic role played by Gen. Paul Malong and other officers who came forward to protect the constitution and keep the country united, they smacked him in the face and humiliated to the point of denying him compassion to attend the burial of his daughter. So if this can happen to Gen Paul who then is left?” asked Garang.

The defected officers decided to speak out after realizing that their failed efforts to flee Gen Malong would lead them to court-martial.

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