South Sudan army chief Paul Malong, who was dismissed on Tuesday, has said he will return to the capital Juba.

The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army chief of general staff had left Juba after being sacked.

Gen Malong retreated to Yirol in Eastern Lakes State with 20 bodyguards, according to Information minister Marial Amum.

Amum said Gen Malong reported to the office of Lakes State governor.

As of Wednesday evening, he was still in Yirol, but said he would return to Juba once a plane was sent to pick him up, Amum told journalists.

“I am waiting for a plane and will return to Juba immediately it arrives,” the general told a local radio station.

“I am a soldier. Moving around the country with my bodyguards should not surprise anyone or make others panic.”

Gen Malong was replaced by his deputy James Ajongo Mawut.

He accepted the President Salva Kiir’s decision, saying Gen Mawut was suitable for the job.

“Ajongo is a brilliant and strong officer. He has contributed a lot to this nation,” he said, and urged South Sudanese to ignore “wild rumours”.

He said he had no intention of waging a war against President Kiir, adding that changes in the military high command were normal.

However, it remains unclear why Gen Malong left Juba at night, on the same day he was dismissed.