SOUTH SUDAN: Opposition leader Joseph Bakasoro rejoins ruling SPLM party

South Sudan minister of public services Joseph Bangasi Bakasoro and leader of the SSNMC addresses the press in Juba on July 15, 2021. [Photo: Radio Tamazuj]

AGENCIES | Radio Tamazuj | Juba – The leader of the South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC) Joseph Bangasi Bakasoro has rejoined the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party under President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Bakasoro, the national minister of public service in the reconstituted government of national unity under the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), deserted SPLM before the 2010 elections.

He vied in the elections as an independent candidate, and became Western Equatoria State governor, after beating SPLM’s Gemma Nunu Kumba.

Addressing the press in Juba today, Bakasoro said it was time to rejoin the SPLM for peace in the country.

“As leaders of the National Movement for Change (NMC), I am aware of the repercussions of the decision but it is worth taking for the sake of peaceful co-existence among our people of South Sudan and more especially people in Western Equatoria State,” Bakasoro said. “I am appealing to all our people, supporters, and our diehards to bear with us and accept the decision. We shall be blamed, we shall be hated, we shall be laughed at, yet we shall prevail over odds for the sake and unity of SPLM and South Sudanese people.”

Bakasoro pointed out that the decision he has taken is for the good of his state, and the country at large, saying he too participated in the liberation struggle and now wants to be part of the solution to the problems facing the country.

“Due to the fragmentation of the SPLM party, our people including the youth-particularly in Western Equatoria State-have been polarized, and the whole population in Western Equatoria is divided on political party ideology…….I am taking that political decision on behalf of the NMC family because I want peace and social cohesion among South Sudanese people and to stop suspicion against the people of Western Equatoria State,” Bakasoro announced.

He appealed to his party members and supporters to follow in his tracks.

South Sudan president and leader of SPLM, Salva Kiir (AFP Photo)

“I am calling upon all our supporters to join me in this endeavour including those in the diaspora like Moses Soro who has been our secretary of humanitarian affairs and former finance minister in the defunct state of Yei River state, Michael Julon in Australia, and many more who are already on the wagon to returning back to SPLM to implement the vision of SPLM,” the minister said.

Bakasoro emphasized the need to restore the political glory of the SPLM party for prosperity and peace.

He added, “I am appealing to all SPLM veterans who might have gone out of SPLM because of various reasons to return back for the sake of history. I am appealing to the hold-out groups to silence the guns and come back home to contribute to the struggle to fix the country’s challenges. I am also appealing to the general public to support the peace process in the spirit of the revitalized peace agreement.”

While thanking President Salva Kiir Mayardit and regional actors for their support in implementing the peace agreement, Bakasoro expressed optimism that a united SPLM will pave way for democratic transition in the country.

“I urge you all parties to the peace agreement to continue with the implementation despite the fact that it is very slow, all will be well in the future. Therefore today we are no longer opposition, we are SPLM members. If we had done things that were wrong, forgive us and we apologize for that. SPLM did something wrong to me, I have forgiven SPLM,” Bakasoro concluded.

Eastern Equatoria State governor, Gen. Louis Lobong, who represented the SPLM party at the press conference said Bakasoro had decided to take a long leave without permission but had now returned home.

“On behalf of the political leaders and particularly members of the SPLM in the Equatoria region, we would like to thank and appreciate the decision taken by comrade Joseph Bakasoro and his team on coming back home and to your party the SPLM,” Governor Lobong said. “We would like to also thank President Salva Kiir, the chairman of the SPLM, for warmly welcoming and forgiving Joseph Bakasoro and his team and accepting them back to the SPLM.”

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Lobong revealed that he was part of the team that was engaging Bakasoro to return to the SPLM fold.

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