The disputed that emerged when Malong was relieved as chief of the army in May has been dragging on. In the last few days, the army move their tanks to surround the resident of the former staff after the President issued a decree required Malong to allow the number of soldiers in his compound to be reduced. On (09/11/2017), the number of elders led by retired Gen Bon Bang Dhel and Agasio Akol Tong went to Malong. They went in with the intention to convince him to let go the number of soldiers in the compound. According to Bona, they have succeeded in convincing Malong but they will have to convince President Kiir Mayardit to revoke his decree. If the meeting between President Kiir and elders was going to be successful at 11am (10/11/2017), they Malong could be given his freedom to travel a few hours later. The whole decision is still with the President if he will revoke his own decree. Here is the interview Gen Bona Bang Dhel on SBS Dinka Radio with Ajak Deng Chiengkou.
Tell us why you went to meet Malong
"We have decided to interfere because Malong was relieved as chief of Staff and he was replaced by James Ajongo Mawut as the new chief of Staff. Soon after Malong was relieved and the misunderstanding that followed. Malong wanted to go back to Northern Bhar el Gazal nut he was persuaded in Yirol by elders and the Governor (Bor Philip) to return to Juba. After two days in Yirol, he returned to Juba and then the house arrest was issued by the President. For all these months he has been living in the Government given house with his bodyguards. During this period, a request to reduce the number of about 28 soldiers with him to five was made but that created another level of misunderstandings. This is where the need to surround him came and it was demanded that he release these soldiers to their units. Malong refused and the way everything was handled was not in a proper way.”
Why are you taking this role?
“After the misunderstanding, we decided to interfere as former SPLA senior commanders of SPLA and SPLM. We decided two days ago, that was me, Gen Agasio Akol Tong, Santino Majak Deng, Agasio Ajang then we added Albino Akol Akol who is a son of Aweil. We added other elders because we needed to go and talk like a family. Some people are making it as the differences between Rek and Malual but hat is not the case. So we went today and we talked with him (Malong) to allow soldiers to go back to their units. Malong raised the issue of what if people are trying to lure him to give up protection then he will later be arrested without any protection? We then assured him that this will not happen. I (Bona Bang Dhel) came forward and assured him that I can offer myself to live with him and if there is a person with the intention to harm you then he will do the same thing to me.”
You only met Malong, when are you meeting President Kiir or did he revoke the decree?
“We are going tomorrow. We have the understanding and we must apply the concept of Kɔn kɔ̈ɔ̈c (Wait and let find out what happened) and that is the concept Dinka people use. What are we fighting for and if it is about leadership then there will be an election in 2018.”
Is Gen Malong released?
“We have sorted everything and there is no dispute again and tomorrow (10/11/2017) everything will be finished.”
Are the tanks that surrounded the compound of Paul Malong been moved?
“None of them is removed because we just finished talking this evening. Tomorrow the same committee will go to the President. The President will then make a decision on what to do. According to us, the president will reconsider our recommendations and we have assured that there is no dispute.
Has Malong listened to you?
“I am sure hundred percent because we are the leaders of SPLA/M. We are sure he accepted our advice.”
Malong said he has no personal problem with President Kiir but alleged that there are those trying to create a conflict between them. Will President Kiir not listen to these people again then you?
“No, we wouldn’t accept that. We are the leaders and he should accept our advice, not others. I am one of the Generals who fought and all of us who took this role and President should accept our advice.
NB: This interview with done at 7:33 am AEST and 11.33pm in Juba