By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s former military chief of staff Paul Malong has launched a new opposition party to challenge President Salva Kiir, accusing him of looting the country’s resources and turning it into a failed state.
Paul Malong was sacked early last year amid resignations by some generals who alleged abuses by the military and tribal bias in the army ranks. Since November he has been in exile in Kenya where he was allowed to travel after months of tension between him and his guards and Kiir’s government.
In a statement on Monday, Malong announced the formation of the South Sudan-United Front (SSUF), which aims to “arrest the carnage” of South Sudan’s ongoing civil war and steer the nation back to democracy.
Malong said Kiir “concentrated all his efforts with the help of a small clique around him to quite literally loot the coffers of our great nation to total bankruptcy”.
It was not immediately clear whether Malong’s organisation would join forces with rebels to fight Kiir militarily or would try to challenge him politically.
Malong, who was then part of the system said the country has become a “nest for systemic corruption.”
Ex- army chief further complained about war atrocities, obstruction and violation of the peace agreement, arguing that president Kiir should not be entrusted with “midwifing revitalized agreement.”
He said his newly movement shall seek to join the coalition of rebel groups known as “South Sudan Opposition Alliance.”
Although the opposition was initially solidly behind Machar, in recent years anti-Kiir forces have splintered into factions which has partly complicated efforts to end the war.
Meanwhile, the government said if Malong wants to fight, let him fight and they will meet him in the field.
In the same statement, Malong said his new organisation will also take part in the country’s upcoming planned peace talks to end the conflict at the end of April in neighboring Ethiopia.
South Sudan plunged into a civil war in 2013 after a political disagreement between Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, degenerated into a military confrontation.
A 2015 agreement aimed at ending the conflict failed after hostilities again broke out between the two rivals.
A former close ally of President Salva Kiir, Malong has been accused of controlling an ethnic militia that’s committed human rights atrocities against civilians.
Last year Malong was sanctioned by the United States for undermining security amid South Sudan’s five-year civil war, which has killed tens of thousands and uprooted about a quarter of the country’s population of 12 million and plunged parts of the country into famine.