A senior member of South Sudan's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) has quit the party, accusing it of committing "horrendous crimes" against the people of South Sudan and saying it has been turned into an oppressive machine by President Salva Kiir.
Former higher education minister Peter Adwok Nyaba announced his resignation from the party in a letter he sent to Kiir on June 1. Nyaba sat on the SPLM's National Liberation Council, the party's highest legislative body.
South Sudan Politician Peter Adwok Nyaba's Resignation Letter
In the six-page letter, Nyaba says that since Mr. Kiir took the helm of the SPLM in 2005 following the death of South Sudan's founding father, John Garang, the party has been mired in internal "backbiting, double-crossing, double-talking and outright conspiracies," and has "hardened and ossified" into a "totalitarian regime."
He blamed Kiir for waging an unnecessary war that has resulted in the death of "tens if not hundreds of thousands of our people" and alleged SPLM involvement in covering up what he said were crimes against humanity committed by security forces in December, when violence erupted in Juba.
Kiir accused of 'tendency to dictatorship'
Nyaba accused Mr. Kiir of nepotism, corruption and making false accusations to cover up after billions of dollars in oil revenues went missing, and of violating South Sudan's constitution by mobilizing and training a private army.
He slammed Mr. Kiir for trying to turn the people of South Sudan into a "docile, uncritical mass."
He accused the president of "an inner tendency to dictatorship" and charged that officials in his government - notably information minister Michael Makuei - have tried to control the message coming out of South Sudan by blocking media coverage of certain events.
"Given these facts, and in view of the fact that the SPLM under your leadership is prosecuting a civil war, I do not want, by virtue of being a member of the SPLM, to be privy to some of the horrendous crimes being committed against the people of South Sudan," Nyaba's letter concludes.
"I also do not want to be privy to the transformation of the SPLM into a totalitarian machine and an oppressive regime that is destroying South Sudan," he said, tendering his resignation.
Former political detainee
Nyaba noted that he is the only one of 12 political figures who were rounded up and detained shortly after the country erupted in violence in mid-December, who is still in South Sudan. He said the National Security Service -- which takes orders from Mr. Kiir -- has seized his passport and refused to return it.
He said one reason he wrote his long letter to Kiir was because other people in South Sudan are too frightened to speak out against the government.
"There is a lot of fear... that if you resign or if you criticize the SPLM you will be killed, and, in fact, some people were killed for that," Nyaba told South Sudan in Focus.
"I think it was important for me to come out openly and address the chairman of the SPLM and put the blame on him. He is the person responsible for all that has happened in the country, the suffering of our people. It is him defending his power,” he said.
Nyaba said the SPLM "has ossified into an authoritarian party, where power is concentrated in the hands of one man” and should be disbanded.
SPLM officials refused to speak on the record about Nyaba's resignation letter but said they are trying to convince him to return to the party.
String of resignations from SPLM
Nyaba's resignation came hard on the heels of other political figures quitting the SPLM.
On Tuesday, Richard Mulla, the independent lawmaker for Western Equatoria state, told South Sudan in Focus he had fled to Kenya and joined the South Sudanese opposition led by former vice president Riek Machar. Mulla denounced Kiir's increasingly dictatorial tendencies and said he feared for his life in South Sudan.
A day later, a senior foreign ministry official and former envoy to the United Nations, Belgium and the European Union, Francis Nazario, said he, too, has quit the SPLM and left South Sudan.
"I don't want to be part of what's happening," Nazario told South Sudan in Focus. "I won't go back until there's a solution, until there's freedom, respect of human rights... Until you can say what you want without being harassed."
"I can't be in Juba while seeing people being harassed, killed by government security," he said.
Mulla said around a dozen other political figures from South Sudan have fled the country and are believed to have joined the opposition.
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi contributed to this report from Juba.