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Tension high in Juba as troops move to disarm former army chief

By Emmanuel Pagan

JUBA –There is tension in South Sudan’s capital  after President Salva Kiir sent troops to surround the home of former military chief of staff Paul Malong and disarm his bodyguards who have refused to hand over all the weapons.

Kiir’s directive issued on Saturday to disarm the bodyguards of Gen Malong who has been under house arrest since May after he was fired is causing fear in Juba.

According to the copy of the order quoted by the Associated Press, President Kiir said resistance by Malong “should be met with reasonable force.”

Malong’s wife, Lucy Ayak Malek said the bodyguards refused to hand over arms and the situation had worsened, with hundreds of soldiers surrounding Malong’s home which near State House. “I think things will escalate if the president doesn’t act quickly,” she quoted by the agencies.

The United Nations issued an emergency notification advising staff in the capital, Juba, to remain vigilant.

The Acting army spokesman Col. Santo Domic Chol said whatever was taking place was “political.”

Gen Malong was accused of directing last year’s fighting in Juba that killed hundreds. A former governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, he also has been accused of controlling an ethnic militia that numbers in the thousands.

In September the United States imposed sanctions on Malong, along with two senior South Sudan officials, for undermining the country’s peace, security and stability.

South Sudan’s civil war erupted in late 2013 and has killed tens of thousands of people and sent more than 2.4 million fleeing the country.

Most of these refugees have run to Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, creating the largest displacement of civilians in Africa since the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

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