By William Madouk Garang
The South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) has downplayed the figure of members who have defected to SPLM under President Salva Kiir, saying that they cannot reach a dozen.
This came after Mary Akon Majok, a former contestant for deputy governor of Lake State and Chuol Gew Nhial on Tuesday shifted their allegiance from Dr. Riek Machar to SPLM under President Kiir.
In their mass resignation letter, they said: “We gave this decision a lot of thought and consideration; however, given overwhelming personal reasons, we made this difficult choice to tender our resignation from the SPLM-IO”.
“We will always treasure our time in the SPLM-IO and the friendships we built therein but we have declared to go back to SPLM-IG party with effect from today,” it added.
Reacting to defection, Puok Both Baluang, the Acting Press Secretary in the office of Machar, downplayed the large defection terming it ‘minor’ impact and emphasized that those who joined president Kiir’s camp could hardly reach twelve men.
“Yes, we acknowledge that Mary Akon the former contestant for the position of deputy governor on ticket of SPLM-IO Lake State decided to leave the SPLM-IO party and join SPLM-IG,” Baluang noted
“However, the number that was alleged in her first statement it’s pure exaggeration – I doubt if those who decided to join SPLM-IG can even reach a dozen”, he added.
He stated that SPLM-IO is still powerful and will not be shaken by such minor defection; Mr. Baluang further wished Mary and her team who decided to join SPLM a good luck.
However, Peter Lam Both, the interim Secretary General of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement confirmed that they were joined by two SPLM-IO groups and another from SSOA, asserting that he has directed national secretariat to start registering them immediately.
“The SPLM-IO in Bahr el Ghazal from Lake State is 311 in number and SPLM-IO led by Dr. Aleu Garang is 114 and the SPLM-IO led by Hon. Stephen former minister of Finance [South Sudan United Movement] 47,” Lam told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.
Lam stated that according to testimonies, members decided to join SPLM because they saw positive development in its structure as well as in transitioning to democracy and gender quota, which other parties fail to reflect.
He further said SPLM believes in pluralism and every citizen has rights to choose whichever party they want based on mission and program of that party, he encourages anyone enticed to SPLM principles to join.
“Whoever is attracted to the SPLM vision and mission is free to join, he is free to come back and join the [SPLM] party,” he concluded.