Former South Sudan army chief freed from house arrest

JUBA – The former South Sudan army chief Gen Paul Malong who has been under house arrest since may has been allowed to leave his home for medical treatment.

His wife, Lucy Ayak, was quoted by the Voice of America that Malong was released Thursday. “My husband has been released and has been allowed to go for a medical checkup in east Africa,” she said.

On Thursday, he issued letter, requesting to be freed and move to Uganda. The General had been holed up at his home in Juba with about 30 bodyguards and the situation escalated two weeks ago when government troops surrounded his house trying to disarm the guards.

He had asked government to unconditionally release all his loyalists who escorted him to Yirol and were currently being detained by the National Security Service (NSS) in Juba.

The former powerful military commander claimed that Presidential Salva Kiir’s order to disarm his guards had a sole effect of endangering both his life and the lives of his bodyguards.

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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