Africa-Press – South-Sudan. A former South Sudan opposition Member of Parliament who was allied to Vice-President Taban Deng Gai’s defunct Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction has led a group of over 50 former members of parliament to rejoin the ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) faction led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In a statement extended to Sudans Post, Bor Gatwech Kuany said then First Vice President Taban Deng Gai did not follow legitimate procedures to rejoin the ruling SPLM faction despite making a declaration in which Taban announced on May 7, 2018 that he was dissolving the SPLM-IO faction returning to the SPLM party.
“Today, it is a great day to us and the SPLM family because we, the members of the former SPLM-IO led by Gen. Taban Deng Gai, have formally and officially joined the SPLM. Amongst us, we have former members of executive and legislature at national and state levels who served in the last Transitional Government of National Unity. For your information, The SPLM-IO led by Gen. Taban Deng was unilaterally dissolved on 8th of May, 2018,” he added.
“Thus, procedurally, the Press Conference we are making today should have been done the next day after our dissolution. This didn’t happen! Our former leader dissolved us but fall short of bringing us here to SPLM National Secretariat to signify our joining of the SPLM. Procedurally, and logically, dissolution of oneself and joining another are two different things,” he added.
The former opposition-allied lawmaker faulted the vice-president for not following well-known procedures saying the SPLM party should have first accepted the return of the Taban-led opposition officials to the ruling party.
“You can dissolve and choose to just disappear from the scene or dissolve and joined the other group. But if one decides to join another group, the other group you are joining should formally accept you! This didn’t happen to us! Today, after three years in coma of dissolution, we are here formally joining the SPLM, something our former leader Gen. Taban Deng have failed to do,” he said.
“Throughout the duration we were dissolved three years ago, our group was neither SPLM-IO nor SPLM. We lost our political direction, representation in the peace process, participation in the government and even in the SPLM we were aspiring to join when we dissolved ourselves simply because, according to the statement by H.E the President, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit during SPLM Leadership Retreat in Lobonok: ‘We have not done our homework well’,” he added.
Gatwech who was elected in 2010 on the SPLM ticket to represent Maiwut and Longechuk County of Upper Nile state to the parliament in Juba further expressed appreciation to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the SPLM Interim Secretary-General Peter Lam Both for welcoming them back to the mother-party.
“But today, we are very thankful to Cde. Peter Lam Both- the Interim Secretary General of the SPLM, all the members of the SPLM National Secretariat, and our President Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Chairman of the SPLM for formally and officially welcoming us back to the SPLM family. As from today, we are officially back to the SPLM under the leadership of Cde. Salva Kiir Mayardit!” he said.
“We should not be called anymore as people of Gen. Taban as some people used to call us even after dissolution of our party three years ago! We are members of SPLM! We are supporters of President Salva Kiir Mayardit!” he added.
Taban’s SPLM membership ‘unclear’
Taban who was then South Sudan’s First Vice President announced in May 2018 that his SPLM-IO faction which broke away from the group led by then rebel leader Riek Machar Teny had been disbanded and that all party cadres and SPLM-IO fighters would be integrated into the SPLM party and the SPLA, then the official name of South Sudan army, respectively.
He had claimed that the decision to rejoin the ruling SPLM faction was in line with the January 2015 Arusha SPLM Reunification Accord which called for the reunification of the various factions of founding SPLM party which fragmented into three factions following outbreak of civil war in late 2013.
“I would therefore like to announce on behalf of the SPLM-IO structures and the entire membership of the party the dissolution of the SPLM-IO organs including chapters and declare them to be united with the SPLM,” Gai told reporters in Juba on Monday, May 7, 2021. “All SPLM-IO members and cadres are directed to observe this reunification process as stated in the Arusha agreement on 21 January 2015.”
Later in December 2018, President Kiir exposed flaws in the procedures followed in the dissolution of the SPLM-IO faction controlled by the country’s first vice president raising questions on the procedures followed when Taban and his group decided to rejoin the ruling SPLM party saying Taban and his colleagues failed to follow normal procedures when they dissolved their faction.
“I told Ezekiel Lol that you did not do your homework in your house when General Taban declared the dissolution of his SPLM-IO faction. We were expecting that you would sit alone in your Political Bureau to approve the dissolution of your party and then declare joining the SPLM,” Kiir said during the closing session of a SPLM retreat in Lobonok County on December 6, 2018.
“If there is a request, I would put it in front of my Political Bureau and that is the sequence of doing everything. But now you cannot tell me that you just issue a decree appointing such a number of your members into the SPLM Political Bureau. I told him [Ezekiel] that you talk about it among yourselves and when I come back from Lobonok you come and raise it in the next meeting,” he added.
However, speaking separately to Sudans Post this afternoon, a lawmaker who is part of the team led by Bor Gatwech said they have decided to join the ruling SPLM party separately because Vice-President Taban’s membership of the SPLM party was not clear claiming that he is sometimes denied attendance of some important meetings of the SPLM party.
”Vice President Taban Deng Gai who was the chairman of the SPLM faction we were in was just gabling when he decided to rejoin the SPLM party and even his membership of the SPLM party is unclear because sometimes he attend meetings and sometimes he is denied,” the lawmaker who requested not to be named said.
“So, this is the basis on which we have decided to take it upon ourselves that there is need for us to rescue the situation in which many politicians have been subjected in by Taban because we cannot remain without a political direction under him,” the lawmaker further added.