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Kuol Atem Bol, SPLM Secretary for Political Affairs (4th R) flank by youth defecting from SPLM-IO in Lou Nuer area to SPLM party

Economic woes forcing SPLM-IO members to defect

The rampant defections in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in opposition (SPLM-IO) are motivated by the ongoing economic hardship contrary to what some of those defecting say.

On Friday, some 128 SPLM-IO members from Jonglei State led by Matthew Ter, a youth mobiliser based in Nyirol County joined the SPLM under President Salva Kiir.

“Imagine, I was part of the team that mobilized people to join SPLM-IO since 2013, I did not defect because of my personal interest, what I am seeing is that people are talking  of another war that is why I took this initiative, I do not want them to die again,” Matthew Ter told journalists.

“We were mobilizing mostly youth, I mobilized thousands of people to SPLM-IO but I have seen a lot of mess, if you go to areas controlled by SPLM-IO there is no peace there, others may not know, SPLM-IO party vison is not clear and it is totally misleading the public,” he added.

Despite, the parties to the revitalized peace agreement implementing a peace deal, defections have been rampant with dozens of SPLM-IO party members   switching allegiance to SPLM party.

Kuol Atem Bol, the SPLM secretary for political affairs said that the SPLM party membership is open to everyone, adding that the latest defections will not affect the peace deal. 

“When somebody joins, you cannot say no, we welcome everybody that is coming. It is not going to affect the peace agreement it is even positive, we believe that all members of the SPLM-IO were initially members of SPLM,” Bol said.

However, the spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) the armed wing of SPLM-IO Lam Paul Gabriel expressed doubt on whether the defectors are genuine members of the party.

“That defection is political, I do not think that they are members of SPLM/A-IO, currently we do not have forces in the Lou-Nuer area, our forces right now are in the training centers and cantonment areas,” he said.

“If they feel abandoned then that should not be blamed on the SPLA-IO, they should blame the leadership of this country and the country is led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit,” added Gabriel.

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