S Sudan releases former army chief
Former South Sudanese Army Chief, General Paul Malong Awan, who had been under house arrest in the capital, Juba since May has been released, the Sudan Tribune reports.
Awan’s release followed discussions with a delegation of elders sent to his home on Thursday night by President Salva Kiir to discuss his prolonged detention which was carried out on the grounds of security after him and his followers refused to disarm following a dispute with Kiir.
His release also follows a letter he sent to the United Nations (UN), and the international community, on Wednesday demanding he should be allowed along with his guards to peacefully leave Juba for Aweil, his home town.
Government forces blockaded Awan and his security guards where they were being held under house arrest, refusing to allow food and water to be brought in as well as arresting and confiscating large sums of cash from members of his family who attempted to leave the compound.
In his letter to the UN the former army chief said his life was in danger and requested that he and his guards be allowed to travel to UN refugee camps in neighbouring Uganda, where tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees have fled the continuing conflict in the world’s newest country. He further warned of potential bloodshed should the government insist on disarming and arresting his guards.
Last week, attempts by government forces to disarm the ex-army chief’s bodyguards failed, prompting an uprising from loyal troops.
The conditions of his release remain unclear especially since in the past he was refused permission to travel home to his village in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr El Ghazal state. However, government troops accompanied by tanks and heavy armoured vehicles, will remain stationed outside his residence in case of unforeseen eventualities.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has expressed willingness to assist in solving the standoff between the government and the former military chief, if called upon.
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