November 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese lawmakers from Equatoria region have denied authoring a letter, calling for autonomy and protection from the United Nations.
- South Sudanese MPs stand during a parliamentary session in Juba on 31 August 2011 (AFP)
The letter, widely circulated on social media, contained signatures from leading political leaders from Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states.
In the document also seen by Sudan Tribune, there are called for autonomous status from Juba government and a protection force of 18,000 troops to be provided by UN.
However, several MPs from Equatoria region have distanced themselves from letter and questioned its authenticity.
“We the Equatoria leaders listed in the letter did not write such a letter. This was a very serious document, very treacherous that it must have been done by people who want to wreck this country apart,” said David Mayo, an MP representing Budi County in Eastern Equatoria state.
Mayo openly protested in the national assembly and declared his innocence.
“I did not attend any meeting to discuss those issues raised in the letter,” he added, in a point of concern in Parliament.
Peter Bashir Gbandi, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, who also the lawmaker representing Maridi in Western Equatoria state, said the letter equally surprised him.
“My name happens to be in the list of people who wrote that letter but I did not take it serious because these [authors] are key spoilers of peace,” said Gbandi.
The Parliamentary Affairs minister described himself as a “fighter for peace.”
“And it is challenging to see that [I am] being featured in an opposite set-up,” he further added.
Active rebellion is taking place in Equatoria region for the first time since conflict erupted in South Sudan in 2013, with both warring factions accused of committing atrocities.
Though the said letter was dismissed as “fake” by politicians, analysts say prolonging war could disintegrate the nation along regional or ethnic lines.