Nairobi: South Sudan’s president on Friday ordered his ousted army chief of staff back to the capital as tensions rose between the two men accused of directing the country’s civil war.
President Salva Kiir told reporters that Paul Malong “was in a fighting mood” when the two spoke on Thursday. Kiir said Malong had “decided to run away” without handing over his office.
Malong was replaced after being fired on Tuesday, but the military has been on alert. He has been accused of controlling an ethnic militia that numbers in the thousands.
The president accused “foreign hands” of interfering in Malong’s actions, but spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny later declined to specify which countries Kiir had in mind.
The president said his “blood pressure shot up very high” when he spoke with Malong on Thursday.
Malong could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday, but photos of him posted online on Wednesday and Thursday appear to show him in military uniform and guarded by army soldiers.
The ousted army chief has told AP he had no retaliation in mind over his firing and wanted to pursue a quiet life on his farm. He was then summoned back to the capital but didn’t go.
Malong and Kiir are both ethnic Dinka in a country where fighting has become increasingly ethnic in nature. Under Malong, South Sudan’s army was accused of carrying out targeted ethnic killings during the civil war.
The United States last year led a failed effort for United Nations sanctions on him, saying he had violated the country’s 2015 peace agreement.
South Sudan’s civil war has killed tens of thousands and created the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.