Press Release

FULL TEXT: SPLM-IO Statement on the 36th SPLM/SPLA anniversary

Dr. John Garang de Mabior and Yasser Arman addressing SPLA soldiers in Bonga in 1988(Photo credit: file/supplied/Nyamilepedia)

May 16th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan’s main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO, led by the country’s former First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar, issued a statement on Thursday as the country marks 36 years since the formation of what would eventually become a ruling party in the world’s newest nation, the SPLM/A.

Below is the full statement signed by the group’s Chairman of National Committee for Information and Public Relations, Mabior Garang de’Mabior.


The Significance of the 16th of May to the Sudanese People


My Fellow Comrades in Struggle,

The 16th of May is a very significant day in the history of the struggle of the Sudanese People in both Sudans. This year, the 16th of May is especially significant due to the political turmoil that has engulfed our two countries. There has been a civil war raging in South Sudan for the past five years after the leaders of the historic SPLM/SPLA failed to transition from the armed struggle to building a viable state; to change the unbearable status quo and deliver the promises of the liberation struggle. This is the greatest betrayal in the history of our people’s struggle, as ending the status quo and moving our people into prosperity was the essence of the vision of new Sudan. It was a vision of social transformation- the creation of a free society.

The 16th of May is also a significant date to many of our Comrades in North Sudan, where the armed struggle continues after the failure to successfully carry out the popular consultation for Southern Kordufan and Southern Blue Nile – in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

There are millions of Sudanese who were marooned after the historic SPLM/SPLA lost vision and direction, following the death of our Chairman the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior. The armed opposition that has been waging an armed struggle against the traditional elites in Khartoum has its genesis in the history of the SPLM/SPLA. As we mark this historic day for cadres of the Sudanese Peoples Revolution, it is important for us to reflect so that we may be able to audit the revolution; so that we can make revolutionary corrections and find our bearings in these confusing times in the history of our people’s struggle.

The following is a small reminder to the cadres of the Sudanese Peoples Revolution in both Sudans, as a contribution to the national conversation:

  1. The 16th of May is considered by many as the day that the SPLM/SPLA came into existence. This is inaccurate. The truth is this is the date that there was a split in the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). It was the day that the SAF attacked their own forces of Battalion 104 and Battalion 105 of the SAF – Southern Command, deployed at Ayod, Bor, Pibor and Pachalla.
  2. The idea that would later become the SPLM/SPLA existed prior to the date 16/05/1983 in the form of an underground movement of former Anya-Nya absorbed into the SAF. These were officers of the Anya-Nya Movement who were dissatisfied with the Addis Ababa Agreement (AAA), but grudgingly accepted to be absorbed into the SAF. The Anya-Nya who refused to be absorbed would become known as Anya-Nya II, and they continued fighting the regime which now included former Comrades. This would sow seeds of mistrust that we are still experiencing to this day.
  3. When the SAF split and the former Anya-Nya forces – absorbed by the Addis Ababa Agreement – were dislodged from South Sudan, they found themselves in the bases of their former Comrades in the struggle, located in Ethiopia. There was no SPLM/SPLA as we know it up to this time.
  4. The decision to abrogate the AAA, and the decreeing of the infamous September Laws (Sharia Laws) of 1983 caused a great upheaval in what is today the Republic of South Sudan and the soldiers of the Anya-Nya and hundreds of thousands of refugees – peasants, students, politicians, and other civilians – found themselves in Ethiopia. What ensued was a bitter struggle for power, the effects of which we are still trying to recover from today. The revolutionary forces that found themselves in Ethiopia would fight themselves first before fighting their common enemy, and this unfortunate history is part of the root causes of the current civil war we are engaged in in the Republic of South Sudan.
  5. The cadres of the Anya-Nya became divided over principles and objectives around which to organize the new movement. The main divisive points were “secession of Southern Sudan” and issues of “organizational structure”, with some preferring the primacy of the military wing over the political.
  6. The SPLM/SPLA can be said to have been founded on the 31st of July 1983, when it issued its historic Manifesto. The first leadership committee agreed grudgingly to accept the concept of fighting for a united, secular, socialist and democratic Sudan, at the very least as a tactical objective to avoid alienating the Ethiopian Government – who were fighting Eritrean separatists. They also wanted to avoid alienating the Organization of African Unity (OAU) whose charter did not support separatist movements.
  7. The late Dr. John Garang de Mabior would emerge as the undisputed leader of the SPLM/SPLA after a bloody struggle. He was however not the first Chairman of the Movement.
  8. The shaky coalition of the SPLM/SPLA had a leadership Committee that was supposed to be rotational and the first Chairman was Hon. Akuot Atem, who was to be followed by Hon. Gai Tut and then by Hon. Joseph Oduho. The late Dr. John Garang and current President Salva Kiir were part of a military sub-committee, whose leader was equivalent to Chief of General Staff.
  9. The history of inter communal violence, the generation gap and the history of the SAF- where former Anya-Nya in the SAF were used against their former Comrades- conspired to cause lack of internal cohesion in the new movement and the alliance collapsed violently, ending in the brutal murders of Hon. Akuot Atem and Hon. Gai Tut. The Movement is still hunted by this tragic chapter in our history.
  10. The SPLM/SPLA could not have an impact on the political future of Sudan until this conflict was resolved, and the Movement did not achieve military success until the two Anya-Nya groups united and formed the first battalions of the historic SPLA, which would then recruit the peasants of the entire Sudan into a revolutionary peasant army that would achieve the CPA.
  11. The CPA was a culmination of negotiations dating back to Koka Dam Declaration (I and II) of 1986. The Movement had a strategy of using the armed struggle concurrently with the negotiated settlement. The logic was that the SPLA – the armed wing – would create the conditions, through the course of the armed struggle, for the SPLM to be able to achieve the political objectives for which the SPLA waged the war.
  12. In the early 90’s, the Movement negotiated with the regime in what became known as Abuja I and Abuja II. This ended up collapsing due to the intransigence of the National Islamic Front (NIF), but made important contributions to what would eventually become the CPA.
  13. Through the Koka Dam negotiations, the regime was forced to accept that the problem in the country was a “Problem of Sudan” and not the so-called “Problem of South Sudan”. In the Abuja Peace Process, the Movement forced the regime to accept the concept of separation of state and religion. The regime was finally forced to sign a negotiated settlement known as the CPA, in which the regime acknowledged the right of the people of Southern Sudan to self-determination. The CPA did not just magically materialize.


Beloved Comrades, we have been double crossed!


  1. The 16th of May is a very significant day because it represents the vision of new Sudan, which we are still struggling to realize in both Sudans. From the initial suspicion of North Sudanese that it was a conspiracy for secession, to the misconception of people of the Republic of South Sudan that the vision was about a place on the map; the vision of new Sudan is “much quoted, but least understood”.
  2. The SAF have colluded with the traditional elites in the Republic of South Sudan in order to forestall the implementation of the vision of new Sudan. The SAF have throughout our history sided with the traditional elites, and it was only when there has been a split in the SAF– in 1955 and again in 1983 – that the Sudanese people have had an opportunity to organize revolution in Sudan, which culminated with the CPA.
  3. It is unfortunate however that at the 11th hour, the top brass of the SPLA and the SAF colluded to forestall the victory of the Sudanese Peoples Revolution. The SPLM/SPLA has been hijacked by a self-appointed group of old politicians – many of whom were allied to the Junta in Khartoum – known as the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). Their objective is to maintain the unbearable status quo that has prevailed in the two Sudans since the days of Roman domination (commonly known as the Turkiya).
  4. The traditional elites and their intellectual mercenaries have confused our people long enough. The cadres of the Sudanese Peoples Revolution must understand that there is no contradiction between the independence of the Republic of South Sudan and the implementation of the vision of new Sudan in both Sudans.
  5. The vision of new Sudan is the solution to the crisis of identity we are suffering from as Sudanese People. It is only within the context of new Sudan that we can solve the nationality question in both countries, which led to the breakup of the old Sudan and threatens to continue breaking up the two countries. This is the metaphysics of the current struggle being waged by the indignant youth in both Sudans who feel cheated by the traditional elites.
  6. The traditional elites fear the vision of the new Sudan as it would fundamentally change the ignoble rule under which our people have suffered and change the power relationships that have prevailed since the days of colonialism and slavery.
  7. In conclusion, the 16th of May is a significant day to millions of Sudanese People in both Sudans. It is a good day to reflect and audit the revolution, as it were. The leaders who led the people’s struggle have betrayed the revolution and the goodwill of our people and friends of our Revolution. The traditional elite have employed hundreds of intellectual mercenaries who are confusing the public about the objective realities of our land.
  8. The battle for new Sudan was never a war that would be won on a physical battle field. The struggle for the new Sudan will be won in the minds and hearts of our people. We must dare the status quo, speak the new Sudan into existence and defy the culture of silence, instituted through terror tactics by the traditional elite.


A luta Continua!


Cpt. Mabior Garang de Mabior

Mobile Office

16/05/2019 – 02:56 Hrs

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