The South Sudan military has so far thwarted three coup attempts by former army chief Paul Malong, in which he tried to mobilize loyal soldiers to oust President Salva Kiir, his aide says.
Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek said that “Malong staged almost three attempted coups against the president, even at some points he wanted the president to be sent home to Warrap so that he takes over as the president.”
“It was thwarted simply because of the intelligence,” he added.
Ateny says Malong has obstructed every government effort to implement the 2015 ripped peace agreement. Ateny made shocking revelations Tuesday when he told reporters in Juba that Malong failed a government plot to kill rebel leader Riek Machar, even after he received $5 million for the July 2016 mission.
“Malong took the money but Riek Machar was not killed. He [Malong] failed to pursue Machar and Riek Machar did not face any difficulty. But he [Malong] took the money,” Ateny said, while accusing the former military chief of massive corruption, barely one day after he officially declared himself a rebel.
Malong announced on Monday he had formed an organization to challenge President Salva Kiir, accusing him of looting the country’s resources and turning it into a failed state.
In a statement, the new South Sudan-United Front (SS-UF) was “a struggle to … arrest the carnage” and steer the nation back to democracy.
“We are also refuting and condemning claims that 5 million dollars was given to General Malong so as to kill Riek Machar. It is untrue and thus a possible ploy meant to disintegrate the alliance formed by the oppositions against Kiir’s leadership,” Sunday de John, Malong’s spokesperson said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“If such things happened, Kiir should shoulder the blame and hence fit to be charged for sinking the country through incompetency,” he added.
The controversial general was sacked early last year amid resignations by some generals who alleged abuses by the military and tribal bias in the army ranks.
Since November he has been in exile in Kenya where he was allowed to travel after months of tension between him and his guards and Kiir’s government.