The hard fall of Gen. Paul Malong Awan
By Kharubino Kur Bol
The fall of Gen. Paul Malong from the corridors of power to the house arrest perfectly illustrated in an apophthegm saying, “the bigger they are, they harder the fall”. Malong was not just a powerful military figure but he was believed to be the de facto President of South Sudan. His relationship with the President Salva Kiir can be dated back 30 years ago. Rumours have it that the once powerful Gen. had once swaggered about his close ties with the President, “I am in Kiir’s throat, he can’t swallow me nor vomit me out; we are intertwined” brags Malong.
However, his untimely fall left a lot to be desired and we all look forward to seeing pathologists coming out to tell the country the postmortem results of the dead ‘intertwined relationship.’ Ho yes! Amb. Telar Deng was the government’s chief pathologist who was sent to Malong in Yirol. Can you please tell us something?
Speculatively, the Malong’s superiority complex is what caused the death of the intertwined relationship. If there was a great paradox in Kiir’s government, don’t think of Micheal Makuei, it is Gen. Malong. He embodied what government supporters need and what they don’t need. He calls the people with equal ease he charms them to support the government. He influenced major presidential decrees; he fixed his people in every angle of the government and commands huge followers than Kiir within Dinka tribe. He walked out of Freedom Hall in protest when President Kiir signed Compromised Peace Agreement in 2015. He accepts the truth and rejects false. He talks black and white. He is a no nonsense man.
With that charisma, Malong didn’t know that he has broken law number one of the 48 commandments of power by Robert Greene. In his book called “48 laws of power”, law number one says “don’t outshine your master”. He outshone the President and he got sacked.
In his recent portfolio as an army chief, an influential position that some Generals used to breach the constitution and ascend to the presidency by coup, Malong didn’t strictly stand on the side of law, but stood against anyone who sought to take political capital through bullet, stood against anyone who sought to kill the citizens and abrogate the constitution. Though he almost brought to an end the rebellion of Riek — and indeed blamed the rebellion. President Kiir undeservingly humiliated him at the wrong time on illogical accusations concocted by gossipmongers.
To be fair, Gen. Malong was not everyone’s cup of tea. He is a ruthless military leader who believes that the war is fairly won on the battlefield rather on the negotiation table. And this belief earns him thousands of supporters. The gossipmongers accused him of overflowing ego, Presidential ambition and offensive management of power. However, with that rank (LT GEN.) of his and his previous experiences in politics, he is already in politics and politics doesn’t often go without ego and ambition. Less than that, you are ordinary. They also accused him of overstretching his hands’ farer then they were meant to be, and biting off more than he can chew.
Leave it or take it, Malong has won the admiration of much South Sudanese especially when he heeded the calls of his friends and the hoi polloi to return to Juba. This is a rare demonstration of statesmanship. Though he was ignominiously neutered by the President and intimidated by some junior officers, Malong accepted to come to Juba for the interest of South Sudanese irrespective of their tribes and political affiliations. With his unabated leadership aplomb, Malong didn’t lambast the government for placing him under house arrest nor did he forcefully demand his release to go for medication in abroad. He is just suffering in a silent mode.
Don’t shoot the messenger—I am just telling you the truth. Malong Awan is not AWAN. Malong knows “LONG”; he stands and lives by “law”. He is not as sly as fox; he knows the law as Chan Reech Madut. He is a good and honourable man. He is temperate and thoughtful. He is not a power hungry dude. His demeanour shows a man who understands the laws and can’t misuse the army to advance his political interest___ which I believed he has none. He doesn’t throw bombs or speak haphazardly and his recent serenity not to respond to reckless and antagonising statements uttered several times by the government against him bears the witness.
As a soldier, he is a follower of Sun Tzu, a famous Chinese military strategist who taught his followers to choose their fights carefully; Know whom they are fighting and why. And know their options in the fight. Therefore, Malong didn’t choose to fight and that is why he returned to Juba in defiance of all odds.
His exit of Juba had shaken the whole nation to the core and put all people in panic. But the patriotic Malong was not scheming for rebellion but to let the country know that the President is being held hostage by the gossipmongers and he is running the country under their influences. It is crystal clear now that the witch’s brew of gossiping in J1 will sooner than later throws South Sudan into the abyss.
On 12th May, President Kiir unwittingly accepted that he embraces the rumours more than realities. “I was receiving reports about Malong almost every hour of people telling me things which I knew Malong was not doing. This was becoming a routine talk and it was like I was not listening to them” Kiir cacophonously added “I made the changes because I wanted to see what the people coming with reports about him will have to say again”
This misbegotten practice by our politicians to gossip against their colleagues to register their allegiances and trust of the President is primaeval politics of 21st century. But it is the perceived reality in SPLM. Gen. Malong was sacked by the President because of this kind of politicking. This gossipy political screed will set this nation into precipice if the President doesn’t discard it soon. However, the President seems loath to learn from his astronomical blunders of embracing gossiping. He drops a clanger after a clanger and learns nothing. The blunders of 2013 should have served as his lessons.
In conclusion, today Gen. Malong is two months old in Juba under house arrest since he returned from Yirol. It is now upon President Kiir to genuinely reconcile with Malong, forgets the past and moves on or keeps Malong under house arrest till he sneaks out of Juba and uses his detention as an accused for launching a rebellion. It is true that in politics, there is no friend but an ally; President Kiir should bring Malong back into government teach him table manners.
The writer is reachable via firstname.lastname@example.org