Troops moved from Malong home


South Sudan has withdrawn troops and armoured vehicles surrounding the former army chief’s house, a military spokesman said, ending a standoff that raised fears of clashes in the war-torn country’s capital.

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the army pulled back troops on Saturday after General Paul Malong agreed to reduce the number of his bodyguards.

Malong’s wife Lucy Ayak told Reuters from Nairobi her husband remains under house arrest but said the troop withdrawal is a “sign of peace.” Ayak could not confirm if the reduction of bodyguards took place.

Malong led the army’s war effort against rebels from 2014, but was sacked and placed under house arrest this May after a fall-out with President Salva Kiir.

Last weekend, Kiir sent troops to disarm Malong’s bodyguards, but they refused. Kiir’s troops surrounded the house.

Malong is under US sanctions and has been accused, along with Kiir, by a UN expert panel of leading troops who murdered and raped civilians during the civil war.

Tens of thousands were killed and the war created Africa’s largest refugee crisis in two decades. The UN said the conflict’s ethnic cleansing was setting the stage for genocide.

Malong is also Dinka, and the standoff with Kiir raised fears of fighting within the ethnic group, South Sudan’s largest comprising the bulk of the army and government’s ruling coalition.

One commander loyal to Malong joined Machar’s rebels with dozens of armed troops during the standoff. Dinka leaders from around the nation convened to negotiate a solution.

Last week, Malong requested the UN mission in South Sudan to intervene and give him protection. Malong’s troops are accused of attacking UN installations and killing peacekeepers.