More than 700 members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- in opposition (SPLM-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar have joined the SPLM-In Government under President Salva Kiir.
Daniel Deng Mayiel, the spokesperson for the Koch County Commissioner in Unity State said on Friday that the 750 SPLM-IO members who joined the SPLM-IG led by President Kiir in Koch County felt disenchanted and abandoned by the party leadership.
“We have received 75 members of SPLM-IO from Ngony Payam, Norbor Payam and Koat Payam with their four administrators,” Mayiel told Juba Echo in Koch County.
He disclosed that among the prominent defectors include Miel Kai the administrator of Norbor Payam, Both Tutjiok Malith of Ngony Payam and Tutchar Wiey Kuet, the administrator of Koat Payam.
“No one forced them to defect to the government, it was their interest to rejoin the SPLM-in government and if someone said it was forceful declaration I would not agree with that person,” Mayiel disclosed.
This is the third time SPLM-IO members are crossing over to the SPLM-IG in Unity State.
Koch County has been mired in clashes between rival SPLM-IO factions since last year. The SPLM-IO split into two factions in August 2021, leaving Riek Machar leading the faction in the capital Juba while the splinter armed faction led by his former chief –of- staff Gen.Simon Gatwech Dual remains outside of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.
William Gai Riak, the SPLM-IO Secretary General in Unity State, said their members were pressured by the Koch County Commissioner to abandon their party. In addition, he said their party loyalists are harassed and intimidated by SPLM-IG cadres making them afraid to mobilize for the party.
“Some of them were dismissed from their working locations; one of our members was dismissed from working in one of the oil companies because he delayed to declare his loyalty to the SPLM-IG. He later on declared himself under the condition that he gets back his job,” Riak said.
Last year, traditional chiefs and some military officers crossed over to SPLM-IG in Koch County following deadly fighting in Mirmir area between SPLM-IO factions.