JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
South Sudan said efforts were still
underway to calm tension related to the detainment of the
former Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Chief of General
Staff Paul Malong in the wake of his refusal to surrender his
bodyguards, local media reported on Wednesday.
Information Michael Makuei told journalists on Tuesday evening
that they were giving room for further contacts and
intervention to avoid military confrontation in the capital.
“Talks are going
on because we don’t want this thing to be handled militarily.
Under normal circumstances it would have been a question of
moving in the tanks and the whole thing is over, but we don’t
want that to happen and this is why we are giving room for
further contacts and intervention. We are optimistic this
thing will be over soon,” Makueit said.
He also denied
reports of defection of some officers protesting the continued
detention of the influential and controversial Malong who was
dismissed by President Salva Kiir in May.
The United States
Department of the Treasury has indicted and effected asset
freeze for the former army chief and other two senior ranking
“These are normal
security hiccups and this is not new; these are things that
happen in any country. Malong was allowed to stay with his
forces, but of course being a former chief of general staff,
you cannot be allowed to continue with your platoon in your
own house,” he said.
Makuei said the
contested bodyguards are government soldiers who must be
released so that they report to their respective positions.
He also moved to
calm public fear and anxiety that has gripped Juba since
Friday after Malong disobeyed the president’s order.
“Tanks are not all
over the town, they are in that limited part (Malong’s home)
only and that will be for a time being. Efforts are underway
to have this issue resolved and things will be back to
normalcy. People should not get frightened; tanks have ever
been on the roads before and I don’t know why people are
getting frightened this time,” he said.
soldiers on armored personnel carriers (APC) surround the
former army chief’s residence on the pretext he may escape
from detention, amid ongoing negotiation to diffuse situation
involving senior army officers and traditional elders from the
general’s home town of Aweil in the North West Bahr el Ghazal
descended into violence in December 2013 after political
dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy turned
rebel chief Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving
soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines between the two major
ethnic groups Dinka and Nuer of which the two rivals belong
The 2015 peace
agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of
renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition
rebel leader Machar to flee the capital.