South Sudan: SPLM in opposition to establish national structure

South Sudan flag

The flag of South Sudan

April 11, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) —  The South Sudan’s armed opposition, SPLA/M [in opposition] is preparing to establish a national structure under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the former vice president. The anti-government operation has been fighting the government for the last three months without a national structure.

Forces, defecting from the government and those organized under the community-based white army chambers, have alleged their loyalty to the overall movement and fight alongside the nearby state commander, forging need to have an overall national structure.

The SPLM in opposition , spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, has confirmed that “there is a proposal by our leadership that we organize nationally in this phase of the struggle.”

“Establishing a national structure aims to collectively and adequately address the current concerns on peace, security as well as humanitarian situation in the country,” Dak added.

In the excerpt below, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has collaborate the current loose structure as below. The official national structure, which is yet to be published, would be more comprehensive and inclusive.

The consultations to agree on the new structure are underway but Dak confirmed that the structure will address foreign affairs and the involvement of the SPLM [in opposition] worldwide.

Excerpt, pg. 8: Marshalling an Armed Opposition

The SPLM/A in Opposition is not unified either. The chain of command is weak, with Riek Machar as political leader and General Peter Gatdet Yak (former SPLA 8th Division commander) is in the process of becoming overall military commander. In Unity state, General James Koang Chuol (former SPLA 4th Division commander) is the commander and military governor. In Upper Nile, General Gathoth Gatkouth (former commissioner for Nasir county, then adviser to the Upper Nile governor) is the governor and General Gabriel Tanginye is military commander, with General Saddam Chayout Manyang as his deputy. In Jonglei, Gabriel Duop Lam (the former Jonglei state law enforcement minister) is the governor, and General Simon Gatwich Dual is the military commander for Jonglei and the Equatorias.

They lead an increasingly organized but disparate collection of defected SPLA units and community based, largely Nuer militias. Government officials suggest as much as 70 per cent of the SPLA may have defected – entire units decamped to the opposition, while others deserted and returned to their home areas.

Many defected troops continue to operate and fight as military units, in contrast to the Nuer White Army (often divided into Lou and Jikany factions) that is highly organized but lacks military training. Formally under SPLA in Opposition command, its primary loyalty is to its members and their communities, making sustained command and control a challenge.

Local communities, often well-armed and not involved in elite politics, engage in the conflict on their own terms. In numerous areas, positions reflect local grievances, such as longstanding land disputes, more than national politics.These actors vary in organization, military skills and weaponry, as well as whether their objectives require political or military action.

Although the SPLM/A in Opposition, various armed communities and the political detainees want to change the status quo, their interests diverge in key respects; forging a coalition will require a careful balancing act between players in Juba, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, the field and local communities.

The full ICG document: South Sudan, a civil war by any other name.

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