President Salva Kiir on Tuesday night removed the South Sudanese army’s chief of general staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan from his position.
The official South Sudan Television and Radio, also separately broadcasted presidential decrees announcing the appointment of Gen. James Ajongo Mawut, as the new chief of general staff.
The new chief of general staff until his appointment was a deputy chief of general staff for administration.
No reason was given for the new changes in the top army leadership, although many people attributed the cause to mounting military tensions in Juba, where there has been heavy deployment of troops.
Malong, a strong ally of Kiir and a key player in the ongoing ethnic conflict in South Sudan, was perceived by many as a hardliner in the current government in Juba.
In September 2016, a UN panel of experts said that heavy fighting that engulfed Juba in July 2016, forcing former vice president Riek Machar to flee, was directed by the highest level of the country’s military.
The UN report pointed the finger at President Kiir and Paul Malong as having ordered the large-scale attacks that began on July 8, 2016.
However, analysts say this is a move by the south Sudan President to establish his control over his ethnic group, and the move to sack his army chief was backed by his Tribal Elders council.