South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has substituted former Army Chief Paul Malong for General James Ajongo. The defence minister confirmed this change on Tuesday.
This comes on the heels of the submission of a bunch of resignation letters by senior generals who accused the former Army Chief of being tribally biased and carrying out war crimes. One of those was the military’s head of logistics, Thomas Cirillo Swaka, who complained about human rights abuses by the military and the proliferation of the Dinka tribe. This resignation, like a domino effect caused other generals to hand in their resignation letters as well.
The new Army Chief, General James Ajongo is of a minority tribe. He is a member of the luo from Aweil unlike the president and former army chief who are of the Dinka community.
According to the Minister of Defence, Kuol Manyang Juuk, the dismissal of Malong was “just a normal practice of changing somebody and bringing (in) another person.”
Juuk also said Malong had been gven a one month prior notice before the effective day of his dismissal, adding that this would not affect the millitary’s anti-rebel fight negatively.
South Sudan which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 has become a war zone since the former deputy President, Riek Machar was accused by President Salva Kiir of plotting a coup in 2013
The conflict has led to over ten thousand being killed and about three million people have been displaced.
President Kiir’s spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny denied that this change had anything to do with political divisions. “This has nothing to do with political or any rumour-mongering,” he said. “There is no division in the government.”