JUBA – South Sudan’s main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO, led by the country’s First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, has labeled claims on social media, that it is a Nuer tribal movement, as biased.
Last week, a brief Facebook statement from Mabior Garang De Mabior, the SPLM-IO spokesman and chairperson of the group’s information committee, that apparently referred to the SPLM-IO as a Nuer-controlled group triggered debate as to whether the main armed opposition group is a tribal movement.
Mabior in his statement posted on his social media Facebook page stated that: “When the dark clouds of 2013 gathered and the bloody storm of December hit, we all ran for shelter in the “unfinished luak” called IO.”
“The storm has now subsided and the people who own the luak have become known and they will remain with their luak. We who sought shelter there must not be confused and think the luak belongs to us. It was a place for all of us to shelter from a deadly storm. The owners of the luak have said the storm is over and everyone must go to where they came from.”
Luak, which is a Nuer word, literary means tukul where cattle are kept during the rainy season.
The referral to social media sparked controversy with some asking Mabior why he would join a tribal movement in its first place when he knew so. Others have also used it as a prove to perceptions that the Machar-led movement is a tribal group.
However, in a statement this afternoon, Dut Majokdit, a senior member of the main armed opposition group, said claims that the movement is owned by Nuer are not true and said the group is a national political entity that he said is diverse.
“It’s biased to call the SPLM-IO as Nuer Movement. This is an organization that was formed with objectives and the principles to achieve. It is not a tribal or communal organization as some people think,” Majokdit said.
The senior opposition official said the ruling SPLM faction shouldn’t have also been termed as tribal just because majority in the Kiir-led party comes from the Dinka ethnic group which suggests that the same is the case for the SPLM-IO having a Nuer-majority in its membership.
“Equally, the SPLM-IG under President Salva Kiir Mayardit shouldn’t be called as a Dinka political organization just given the fact that they’re the majority in the ranks and file of the former ITGONU or the SPLM-IG for that Matter,” he said.
“The SPLM-IO distracters and the anti-Dr. Machar elements should not look at him as a Nuer but they should look at him as a national leader with the vision to transform this country,” he added, applauding Kiir and Machar for “ending the deadlock over the Counties yesterday and soon the Upper Nile State governor shall be appointed.”
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