June 10, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) said on Tuesday that lawmakers who recently defected to the country’s rebel movement only represented one percent of its members in the national parliament.
- Acting SPLM secretary-general Anne Itto speaks to the press in her office the South Sudan capital, Juba, on 30 April 2014 (ST)
A total of 18 MPs, mainly from Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states, declared joining armed opposition in Kenya, last week.
Anne Itto, the SPLM acting secretary general, said the 18 MPs who joined rebels led by former vice-president, Riek Machar were looking for “greener pastures” ahead of the proposed interim government.
“You can count on your 10 fingers how many [MPs] have gone. The population is here and they are supporting peace. They are supporting [the] SPLM. They are supporting the elected president and we are together looking to take this country out of its current predicament to peace”, Itto told reporters in Juba Tuesday.
“There are 300 plus [SPLM members) and defection of 18 of them is insignificant”, she added.
The senior SPLM official said she was shocked to learn that Duer Tut, the party’s secretary of administration had joined the opposition, while on medical leave.
“I was actually surprised to learn that this same guy [Tut] who was telling me he couldn’t come because he was not well, to learn that this institution (SPLM) which has been supporting him is led by a dictator,” Itto remarked.
“Who knows? Maybe while in Egypt somebody offered him greener pastures because I felt that now all the stakeholders of South Sudan are brought together to look at what is important to bring peace and take the south forward”, she further stressed.
Meanwhile, Itto described allegations of corruption within the ruling party as “shameful", but insisted it was not only limited to SPLM members.
“How many people have you found who are not [members] of SPLM, but are as corrupt as anything?” she asked, in response to allegations that top party leaders were siphoning the country’s oil revenues.