April 23, 2014(Juba) — The Chief of General Staff of the armed forces, Gen. James Hoth Mai, has been decreed by the Commander -in Chief, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. The president has also relieved the Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Mac Paul and replaced him with Maj. Gen. Marial Nuor.
The decree, read on the national television, has not cited any legitimate reason for the major shift, however, sources believe that it is linked to the poor performance of the army. More than 70% of the army has defected to Machar and the government is losing control of Greater Upper Nile comprising of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states.
Chief of General staff:
The Chief of Staff Gen. Hoth Mai, a Nuer by ethnicity is succeeded by Governor Malong Awan, a Dinka from Northern Barh el Ghazal state.
Gen. Hoth, a graduate with Masters Degree in Public Administration, is a Nuer from Nasir, the current headquarters of the SPLM/A in opposition.
Gen. Hoth has fallen out with Salva Kiir on several occasions, mostly on military and political related issues. However, the differences were buried due to political differences between the president and his political rival, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the former vice president.
Gen. Hoth opposed the illegal recruitment of tribal militia, without his knowledge, in September and also urged the army to stay away from political influence. The tribal militia, approximated at 15, 000, were recruited by Gen. Malong Awan, the incoming Chief of Staff.
Gen. Malong has tirelessly recruited young men and women from his Barh el Ghazal region, before and during the conflict, to defend the president and the major towns in the country.
Kiir admitted in his speech in February that the newly recruited forces are the ones fighting the war in most part of Upper Nile region:
“Now when this thing happened, who are those fighting now in the Unity State, who are those fighting in Upper Nile and who are those fighting now in Jonglei. De nas minu? De yau nas de. Ana ma ligitu dowla bidun reserve army [Who are those people? Those are the same people.” Kiir rhetorically asserted.
Although it has been rumored that James Hoth would be relived, the current sacking coincides with a major shift in the battlefield. With the current conflict moving away from Hoth’s home town of Nasir, to Gen. Malong and president Kiir’s home towns, it is expected that the president would use anything in his disposal to strengthen his defense.
General Paul Malong Awan Anei was appointed the governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in March 2008 and won elections in April 2010. He is now succeeded by Kuel Aguer.
Gen. James Hoth Mai, formerly the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations replaced Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak in 2009. Oyai is currently under detention on coup allegations. He was also accused of plotting a coup to install Mama Rebecca Nyandeng earlier.
Chief of Military Intelligence:
The Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Mac Paul, has recently testified against the coup claims in the special court in Juba. Gen. Mac described the incident as just a misunderstanding in the presidential guards. He believes that the conflict escalated because of how it was poorly handled.
Mac, who was brought in to testify on the side of the government, also failed to link the political detainees to the coup incitement as claimed. Instead he was only suspicious of a phone call made by Gen. Taban Deng to inquire about a soldier that was arrested in connection to ammunition store’s keys.
Mac has been succeeded by a familiar colleague in the army, Maj Gen. Marial Nuor Jok, the former Director of Public Security and Criminal Investigation.
The two SPLA senior generals were implicated in late July 2012, for plotting a coup against the government of Salva Kiir, a report that James Hoth Mai later denied. They were taken to prison in Yei.
Maj. Gen. Marial Nuor, the then Director of Public Security and Criminal Investigation was accused in 2011 of torture, bribery, extra-judicial killings and creation of illegal detentions in the country. He was charged with the following crimes :
- The disappearance of Engineer John Luis in April 2011.
- Arming his tribesmen with guns to perpetuate tribal and sectional disputes in Yirol West and East counties in Lakes State and elsewhere
- The illegal incorporation of active Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) officers and other ranks who are not police personnel and who have not obtained official release from their parent units to join any institutions
- Accepting bribes for assets such as houses, shops, plots in return for bribes in form of cash, shops in Konyokonyo.
- Permitting the arbitrary arrest of civilians in illegally created public security detention facilities, extortion of money from families of citizens.
This brings the SPLA leadership under Salva Kiir to the following:
- Commander in Chief: Salva Kiir Mayardit
- General Chief of Staff : Paul Malong Awan
- Chief of Military Intelligence: Marial Nuor Jok
- SPLA Spokesperson: Philip Aguer
- Commander of Presidential Guards: Marial Cinduong Yol
- Presidential spokesperson: Ateny Wek Ateny