An official of the Southern Sudan government says the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is not putting pressure on the party’s independent candidates for governor to withdraw ahead of the scheduled April general election.
General Oyay Deng Ajak, minister for Regional Cooperation said there is no power struggle within the SPLM.
“I think maybe the message is a little bit wrong. We didn’t give them any ultimatum…we want all those who want to stand as independent candidates that the SPLM belongs to all of us and this is their moment and of course this is a decision which was made by the political leadership…on their behalf…and some are disappointed … (but) we want them to respect the decision which has been made and we want to keep the unity of the movement… and we don’t want them to stand as independent candidates,” he said.
Pagan Amum, general secretary of the SPLM was quoted by Sudan’s media over the weekend as issuing an ultimatum to partisans to withdraw their independent status before February 13th.
Some political observers say the decision by top officials of the SPLM to challenge chosen candidates of the party in the upcoming vote signals internal political power struggle in the party.
But Deng Ajak said there is no division in the SPLM and that the independent candidates are still “staunch” members of the party.
“I really don’t think there is division among the rank-and-file of the SPLM. There are of course maybe some individuals who might not be happy with the final decision which has been made. But at the end of the day, this is normal it happens… the issue has been discussed at the political leadership… all of them (independent candidates) are committed cadres of the movement and we treat them equal,” Ajak said.
SPLM members reportedly standing as independent candidates for governor posts include, presidential adviser Alfred Gorre, Aleisio Ojetuk, current governor of Eastern Equatoria and Junior Oil Minister Angelina Teny wife of the South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar.
Ajak said the independent candidates will still remain with the party even if they win.
“These are members of the SPLM who have sacrificed their lives throughout all these years of SPLM for the course of the marginalized people of Sudan and we have respect for them. We have respect for their decision and a decision which was made by the SPLM; it is in their interest and it is in the interest of the wider movement…if they win they will bring it back to the movement. So, there is no division with SPLM at all,” Ajak said.