South Sudan President Salva Kiir says ex-army chief Paul Malong is safe despite the removal of some of his bodyguard, a community leader involved in resolving the standoff between the two men said Monday.
“The discussions we have had with the president have been encouraging. He is a man of peace and he wants the situation to be addressed peacefully,” Deng Macham Angui, chairman of traditional leaders said.
“The issue has now been resolved and Gen Paul Malong will choose where to go. The troops deployed around his residences have been withdrawn as part of the implementation of the outcome of the meeting and for confidence building,” he added.
Malong, who has led Kiir’s campaign against rebels has been under house arrest since May after Kiir sacked him following a string of military resignations by senior generals alleging abuses and ethnic bias.
Kiir issued a decree on October 30 asking Army chief of staffJames Ajong to “disarm and arrest” bodyguards of his predecessor including the confiscation of all arms and ammunition in his possession.
The order also called for the confiscation of all his communication equipment to ensure he doesn’t leave his residence and those visiting him must be subject to clearance from the army. It also said any resistance “must be met with reasonable force.”
The general–who is blacklisted by United States and Canada for corruption and human rights abuses–told popular radio Tamazuj that; “people will die if those people try to disarm us by force.”
However, army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said in a statement the army pulled back its troops late on Saturday after General Paul Malong agreed to reduce the number of his bodyguards.