On behalf of the South Sudan People’s Movement/Army (SSPM/A) members of high command and on my own behalf, I would like to take this opportunity to salute all our gallant forces wherever they are in the bushes of South Sudan on this historical day which marks the SECOND ANNIVERSARY of the people’s movement.
I also take this opportunity to express our appreciation and thanks to all our citizens and great friends who support and stand in solidarity with the SSPM/A and those who express great concern about gross human rights abuses committed by the pro-regime militia armies including torture, intimidation, humiliation, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, rape, and other related gender-based violence.
Furthermore, the SSPM/A expresses much appreciation and many thanks to the governments of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, DRC-Congo, Central Africa Republic, the UN, and NGOs for hosting and providing thousands of South Sudanese refugees with protection and necessary humanitarian assistance. These refugees have never returned home since the SPLA-Sudan civil war.
The only glimpse of hope for the return of the refugees to their homeland was when Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between SPLM/A and Sudan government in 2005, and the subsequent independence of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011. Unfortunately, the SPLM internecine war erupted in Juba in 2013 plunging the whole country into another civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and wanton destruction of properties. The war sparked a second wave of thousands of refugees who fled again for their lives to the above-mentioned countries, and thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have taken refuge in the United Nations (UN) Protection of Civilian Sites (POCS) in Juba, Wau, Bentiu, Bor Malakal, and Melut.
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE SSPM/A
Compatriots, comrade-in-arms, the SSPM/A is an armed resistant movement formed on the 1st of May 2021 by former SPLA officers, intellectuals, and students to fight for a fundamental regime change in the Republic of South Sudan, to liberate the people of South Sudan from dictatorship rule and politics of tribal hegemony, repression, bondage, and to ensure A GENUINE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE. A system that shall allow the people of South Sudan to choose their leaders in a free and fair election, and nothing can change this objective unless one chooses to join the despotic regime for political accommodation. The notion of non-violent means used by other political and civil society groups as a tool for regime change, and urging our people to go to the streets in our major cities to demonstrate against the regime IS A NON-STARTER and has been proved ineffective in the Republic of South Sudan. Our people have been divided on tribal lines by the two antagonists, President Kiir, and his 1st Vice President Riek Machar. This may be possible in other advanced democratic and civilized countries whose citizens owe loyalty to the nation and not in South Sudan whose citizens owe tribal loyalties to their respective tribesmen. This is a violent and dictatorial regime, that must be confronted, and destroyed militarily through violent means in the shortest time possible.
THE FIRST SSPA CASUALTIES
Compatriots, comrade-in-arms, it is worth recounting how our un-armed comrades were killed in cold blood by the pro-regime militias when the SSPA was provoked into action by Mayom Late Commissioner Major General James Chuol Gatluak, brother to Tut Keaw Gatluak who led the pro-regime militias’ attack on the SSPA location in Bong area -Mayom county on 21 July 2022, killing an SSPA soldier and wounding two others which provoked the SSPA to retaliate by attacking Mayom town on 22 July 2022. As a result, some SSPA officers, NCOs, and men were wounded in the attack and taken to Sudan-border for medical treatment including the Late Comrade Gatluak Majiok Leay who sustained a minor injury. When Hon. Tut Keaw Gatluak, the regime Presidential National Security Advisor got information about the whereabouts of our wounded in Sudan, he paid the Sudan Rapid Support Forces (RSF) handsomely to hunt down and apprehend our un-armed wounded comrades who went to a refugee camp in Fula-Sudan, which was seen as possible revenge for his Late brother Major General James Chuol Gatluak, the Commissioner of Mayom County who was killed in Mayom attack when his grass-thatched house was hit by incendiary ammunition. The Sudan Rapid Support Forces rounded up 18 of our comrades in the refugee camp in Fula- Sudan on 6 August 2022 and handed them over to the governor of Unity state on Heglig border with Unity state on 7 August 2022. The governor gave orders to Lt. General Thoi Chany Ret, the SSPDF Assistant Chief of Defence Force (A/CDF) who by that time flew to Unity state to receive our comrades on the border to summarily execute 14 of our comrades on the way between Bentiu and Mayom at night and threw their bodies on the roadside and proceeded to Kaikang, SSPDF barrack-Mayom County with the other 4 officers where they summarily executed 3 officers by firing squad and put Gatluak Majok Leay inside a hut and burnt him alive on 8 August 2022 in the presence of the governor Joseph Nguen Manytuil and Lt. General Thoi Chany Ret on camera that we all witnessed on social media.
Comrade-in-arms, let us pay homage to all our martyrs for they gave their lives to liberate our people from dictatorship rule. I ask you all to stand up and bow our heads in a minute of silence in honor and memory of these great heroes who have fallen in the liberation struggle for restoring the dignity, torn social fabric, freedom, and liberation of our people from the politics of tribalism, repression, bondage, and dictatorial rule. Furthermore, we appreciate the heroic courage and valor displayed by our martyrs in the face of death, when Late Gatluak Majok was seen talking proudly withholding the movement’s confidential information with a broad smile on his face without fear of death, and other three comrades were being executed by firing squad without flinching. We have lost the bravest men of all time and we will never forgive those who have killed them in cold blood, in fact, the killers have all been marked and will follow our comrades sooner or later.
The defeatists and the regime stooges think that the SSPA is dead with the execution of our 18 martyrs and that we will not be capable of carrying out an armed struggle to the end, but I want to remind them that the SSPM/A is a great movement and very much alive, kicking, and will remain a thorn in the flesh and dangerous threat to the regime. In fact, the people of South Sudan will be liberated sooner or later against all odds. it is a matter of time before the SSPM/A will launch a mother -of -all offensives that will shake and shock the Juba regime to its toes.
The SSPM/A has set three strategic phases: PHASE I which is for mobilization and recruitment which we have conducted successfully by mobilizing thousands of soldiers who have defected from the SSPDF and other armed groups, and thousands of intellectuals and students who have joined the SSPM/A. PHASE II which is for organization and training is now ongoing and we have almost completed 70 percent of phase II which will catapult us into PHASE III which is for a physical military confrontation with the regime forces using methods of guerrilla and conventional warfare.
THE R-ARCSS IS DEAD.
Comrade-in-arms, the SSPM/A has resorted to an armed struggle because all peaceful approaches have been tried and failed in South Sudan including the 2015 Peace Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) which was revitalized in 2018, after J-I fight under the auspices of the IGAD countries with support from the AU, UN, and Troika countries. The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was deliberately sabotaged and was not meant to be implemented in letter and spirit until it died on 23 FEBRUARY 2023. The regime has resorted to designing and playing another political game by persuading the parties to the dead (R-ARCSS) to extend the period of the agreement for two more years starting from February 2023 to December 2024, through a local arrangement called the ROADMAP which is lacking international and regional back up and which gives President Kiir a free rein to work out and manipulate the roadmap as he wishes, and as a result, he dismissed the Minister of Defence in March 2023, who was designated by the SPLM-IO. Furthermore, he went ahead and swapped the Ministry of Defence which was allocated to the SPLM-IO with the Ministry of Interior which was allocated to the SPLM-IG during the distribution of ministerial portfolios among the parties to the agreement without even consulting the leadership of the SPLM-IO and other opposition parties to the agreement and subsequent roadmap. The dismissal of the former SPLM-IO defense minister and subsequent swapping of the Ministry of Defense for SPLM-IO with the Ministry of Interior for SPLM-IG is regarded as an attempt to wrong-foot the opposition parties to the agreement that will cast doubt on whether the roadmap will indeed be implemented in letter and spirit.
The SPLM was one of the greatest movements in Africa before it was infiltrated and eventually hijacked by the elements of the South Sudan National Congress Party (SSNCP). President Kiir has weakened the SPLM Party by ousting those who have the most expertise or those who have the potential to possibly challenge him, and as a result, the SPLM has disintegrated into 7 SPLM parties namely: SPLM in government, Yei faction led by President Salva Kiir, SPLM- in Opposition-1 led by Riek Machar Teny, SPLM-in Opposition-2 led by Taban Deng Gai, Real-SPLM Opposition faction led by Pagan Amum Okiech, SPLM-FDS (Former Detainees) Opposition faction led by Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, the widow of Late Dr. John Garang, SPLM-DC, Opposition faction recently changed to National Democratic Movement (NDM) led by Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, and SPLM-NCP led by Tut Kew Gatluak.
In this case, the ruling SPLM party becomes weak, and President Kiir takes advantage of the situation to concentrate power into his own hands working closely with the SSNCP members leaving the real SPLM members in the cold because he is so consumed with maintaining power and there are no institutionalized mechanisms for succession to hand over power to someone else, he becomes very paranoid and does everything he can to eliminate potential rivals, by torturing and intimidating his critics and political dissidents.
SUDAN PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY (SPLA)
The Professional National Army means the lawful army of the state as distinct from the rebel, paramilitary, and private or militia armies. South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, with the former SPLA rebel army as the nucleus of the would-be transformed professional national army of the Republic of South Sudan, unfortunately, the country descended into a civil war two years right away from its independence.
The transformation of the former SPLA rebel army to a professional national army could not take place because the former SPLA rebel army that would have been transformed into the professional national army had to indulge in serious confrontations with the rebel groups fighting the regime. The former SPLA rebel army has been frustrated, weakened, and destroyed by the civil war and replaced by militia, tribal and factional armies created by both warring parties. Now there is no professional national army in the Republic of South Sudan.
The so-called national unified army recently graduated is still a factional and militia army because they were drawn or drafted from the factional or militia army commands and not drawn from the people at the grassroots levels. They will remain under their respective political and tribal war chiefs/lords to influence them indirectly for the rest of their service because they owe loyalty only to their respective factional or tribal war chefs and not to the nation.
The unified factional and militia army has not been properly trained, they were just given some foot drills that could not qualify them to be the professional national army. Most of them, if not all deserted the training centers and showed up only at the time of graduation. The absence of a professional national army in the country has facilitated the emergence of tribal and factional militias mainly under various political and tribal leaders. These territorial militias are operating under the pretext of providing security to their respective communities and cattle and in the process, they are the ones creating rampant insecurity across the country. These militias arm themselves with sophisticated weapons in anticipation of any attack from the other side of the rival militias and they are used in the rampant political and inter-communal violence by their tribal and political leaders to pillage villages and commit all forms of atrocities and evil acts.
The SPLA was officially changed from the guerrilla’s name to the title of the national army as the South Sudan People Defence Forces (SSPDF) in 2018. The current SSPDF which is supposed to be the nucleus of the formation of the professional national army has become disillusioned with untimely pay, negligence, and lack of basic welfare benefits. Most of them if not all, deserted their units and have attached themselves to various militia formations in their respective home areas. Furthermore, the so-called untrained and inexperienced unified forces that have recently been passed out from the various training centers across the country, have now begun to follow suit due to negligence, lack of pay, and welfare.
In 2008, the SPLA White Paper was developed to provide a concise overview of the SPLA’s mission and objectives, which was not implemented until it was thrown into the dustbin. The White Paper codified the military’s weakness that require support, and repair and created institutions and policy subsets that would require resources and action. The SPLA white paper established an SPLA command council and reservist force in addition to parameters for the DDR and civilian conscription and defined the roles of the minister for the SPLA affairs which are mainly for strategic policy and the roles of the SPLA chief of General staff which are for operations. The White paper charted out a defensive-oriented SPLA force structure with a sizable peacetime support mandate subordinate to civilian authorities.
In 2005, the SPLA (SSPDF) was officially organized as the nucleus of the professional national army of the Republic of South Sudan after the CPA was signed between the SPLM and Sudan government with 10 SPLA infantry divisions, 8 infantry Divisions in South Sudan and 2 infantry Divisions in North Sudan (Nuba Mountain and Blue Nile) before these two former SPLA infantry divisions lost their nationalities when South Sudan became independent in 2011.
The SPLA (SSPDF) is largely obsolete and over-established with officers and NCOS corps, where you have 5 Major Generals in each infantry Division and 5 Brigadier Generals in each infantry Brigade with more over-establishment of other ranks at the lower echelons. The SSPDF and other factional armies in the Republic of South Sudan have lost military standardizations and structure, hence they have become paramilitary in terms of organization and training. Therefore, there is a need for creating a professional national army in the Republic of South Sudan that shall be in the form of the national character of able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 35 that should willingly be drawn from the grassroots levels and taken to the national unified training centers for 6 months training course under the direct supervision of the regional and international military experts.
Now the question is, how can you transform the SSPDF when its nucleus military branches/services: Land/Ground forces, Air force, Navy, or riverine in the case of South Sudan being landlocked, are commanded by illiterate commanders in this 21st century who do not even know the composition of an infantry Squad leave alone the composition of an infantry platoon and the official paperwork in this modern world full of technology.
The SSPDF has been negligently deprived of all military basic welfare benefits. They live only on burning charcoals and fetching firewood from the nearby forests to sell for their survival and their families causing widespread deforestation across the country. The SSPDF is still wearing mismatched uniforms borrowed from other countries like the militia army simply because the SSPDF command cannot purchase the SSPDF uniform (Known as the SPLA Camouflage and Green uniform) that has been approved by the command council as the country standard uniform. The SSPDF has lost discipline, morale, esprit-de-corps, and proficiency because of the lack of timely pay, basic welfare benefits, military equipment, and standard military barracks.
President Salva Kiir is concerned only with the welfare of his private army, which is well-fed, well-equipped, well-tribalized, well-uniformed, and well-treated at the expense of the SSPDF. This private army was created in 2012 with the intention to coup-proof his regime and to offset the SSPDF which is the nucleus of the would-be professional national army of the Republic of South Sudan. The SSPDF has run out of military stockpiles since 2013 and is now only getting its meager supplies and other military equipment on request from the stockpiles of the President’s private army which can be regarded as a total humiliation, subordination, and intimidation.
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CONSENSUS
Comrade-in-arms, the SSPM/A has joined forces with other like-minded South Sudanese political, armed groups, civil society and faith-based organizations under the umbrella of NATIONAL CONSENSUS FORUM (NCF) comprising National Salvation Front (NAS), South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), Real-SPLM, National Democratic Movement-Patriotic Front (NDM-PF), South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC), United Democratic Revolutionary Movement/Army (UDRM/A), National People’s Movement (NPM), Concerned Citizens for change/United People Democratic Party, South Sudan Peace Rally (SSPR), People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA), Red Card Movement (RCM), South Sudan Steps towards Peace and Democracy (STEPS), Cush Organization for Development and Democracy (CODA), United Citizens for Change, (UCC), Redemption International Ministries, Christian United for South Sudan, Agape International, Nile Institute for Peace and Development, Women and Youth Organization (Nyaden Foundation. INC), Strive, Africa, Academics, and Professionals.
The NCF will engage the regime for inclusive alternative peace negotiations through dialogue at the roundtable conference that shall be organized and conducted under the auspice of the community of Sant-Egidio (Rome) or anywhere in the region to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan leading to a new political dispensation in the country if it must be a principled peace and not an opportunistic, political lightweight which is always based on devious negotiations and compromises. We will never accept any political peace agreement with the regime that only gives positions to the leaders and leave out the interest of the people of South Sudan. BAD PEACE IS WORSE THAN WAR.
ROOT CAUSES OF THE CONFLICT IN SOUTH SUDAN
The leadership of the SSPM/A has studied the causes of the conflict in South Sudan and possible solutions to end the conflict. The root causes of the conflict in South Sudan are power struggle, leadership failure, and dictatorial rule that gives rise to tribal hegemony and division of people on tribal lines and we categorically state that the possible solution to the conflict and to save our country from collapse and disintegration is only possible if President Kiir and his 1st Vice President Riek Machar accept willingly to step down or be toppled violently and allow a new political dispensation to peacefully transition power to the people of South Sudan to choose their leaders in a free and fair election. The two antagonists, President Kiir, and 1st Vice Riek Machar have divided our people on tribal lines by inciting tribal hatred among the people of South Sudan and have instrumentalized and armed their respective tribes to fight for them and do everything they can to cling to power.
Leadership failure in a country is like a shadow, darkening many areas and poor leadership is misleading and involves a lack of vision and direction. Therefore, the administration of President Kiir lacks the ability to provide direction, coach national consensus, and motivation. Bad governance is always associated with high corruption which undermines the regime’s legitimacy and fosters political inequality and economic inefficiencies which promote tribal nationalism and hegemony over others. After the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, the efforts to promote good governance, rule of law, and nation-building failed because the top members of the SPLM ruling party who were expected by the people of South Sudan to promote them have involved in a deadly power struggle and as a result the country is now on the verge of collapse and disintegration.
Rule of law means that no one is above the law and the law applies to everyone and the government must follow the law of the country, but in the Republic of South Sudan, there is no rule of law because of leadership failure and as a result, everybody is taking the law into their own hands. That is why there is rampant ethnic and inter-communal violence across the country, which the UN has termed as sub-national violence. In fact, they are national violence because they affect the whole nation, and the government is unable to arrest the situation because tribal nationalism and hegemony prevail over the crippled national security institutions that are unable to provide protection and security for the citizens and their properties.
Rule of law and democracy are associated with less corruption. Government officials should use public office for the public good rather than for private gain. This is not the case in the Republic of South Sudan where there is a low level of democracy that promotes corruption, lack of freedom of expression, and freedom of association. The disaffected and dissident groups and individuals are always being subjected to physical and mental torture, intimidation, and mistreatment by the security forces with impunity. The leadership of the Republic of South Sudan does not follow the democratic values that include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights. The absence of the rule of law in the Republic of South Sudan since 2011, is the main obstacle in the struggle for justice, freedom, and equity, South Sudan is spiraling toward a total collapse and eventual disintegration. The government has failed to provide security to its citizens. there is widespread ethnic and inter-communal violence across the country. These ethnic conflicts have been engineered and sponsored by the regime in Juba as part of its ethnocentric policy of divide and rule to remain in power for the rest of its life. These conflicts are likely to evolve into another genocide as happened in 2013. The conflicts have deprived the people of South Sudan of basic services such as clean drinking water, food, education, and essential health services. The instability of political and socio-economic in the Republic of South Sudan is characterized by rampant sub-national violence across the country. The regime is to blame for organized crimes, ethnic and inter-communal violence, corruption, illegal drugs, the proliferation of firearms, economic sabotage, environmental degradation, effects of natural calamities, tribal militias, and factional armies across the country.
The SSPM/A urges the people of South Sudan to support and join the SSPM/A liberation bandwagon to liberate ourselves from dictatorial rule. The SPLA took up arms to liberate the people of South Sudan from Arab rule, and we thought that we were free forever, but now South Sudan has descended into the hands of the dictators, which has forced us to fight another war to liberate the people from dictatorial rule.
Moreover, the SSPM/A urges all the people of South Sudan to support the call for a roundtable conference where all South Sudanese stakeholders shall sit at the roundtable together to address the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan and chart the way forward for a new political dispensation in the country.
Thank you all and may God bless South Sudan.
Oriaah!!! Victory is ours!
Gen. Stephen Buay Rolnyang
Chairman and Commander-in-chief,
SSPM/A HQ, DAJO, Upper Nile Region.