South Sudan

Since fighting erupted in Juba in July 2016 and a major rebel faction returned to war, rebel groups have proliferated though conflict is much reduced from its height in 2014. The government’s current strategy can secure Juba but cannot deliver sustainable nationwide peace. Of the millions experiencing hunger due to the conflict’s impact on civilians, the UN declared 100,000 in famine conditions for several months in 2017. Through field-based research and engagement with relevant national, regional and international actors, Crisis Group aims to support humanitarian access and build a new consensus around sustainable peace efforts that address the regionalised nature of the conflict as well as its localised dynamics.

CrisisWatch South Sudan

Unchanged Situation

Rebel groups pursued anti-govt alliance as Rome peace talks appeared set to resume, ruling party expelled VP Machar from leadership structure, and violence remained rampant in several areas.

Amid possible resumption of peace talks, major rebel groups sought alliance. Holdout opposition leaders, including head of National Salvation Front (NAS) Thomas Cirillo, former army chief Paul Malong and former Sec Gen of ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Pagan Amum mid-Oct held consultations with African and Western officials in Italy’s capital Rome ahead of expected renewed talks with govt; peace talks began in 2019 but broke down in Aug 2021. Meanwhile, in move likely aimed at strengthening groups’ hand at negotiations, head of splinter group Sudan People’s Liberation/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) Kitgwang faction Gen Simon Gatwech Dual 9 Oct called for alliance of holdout opposition groups, 15 Oct met with NAS high-ranking representatives to discuss proposal.

President Kiir ousted Machar from vice chairmanship of SPLM. In move aimed at undermining VP Riek Machar, ruling SPLM led by Kiir 20 Oct expelled Machar along with former Sec Gen Pagan Amum from party leadership, accusing them of trying to build up their own political parties. Machar 24 Oct rejected move, saying “no faction can dismiss any member of the other factions from SPLM”.

Split in breakaway faction of Machar’s SPLM/A-IO continued to fuel violence in Upper Nile state. Fighting pitting ethnic Shilluk “Agwelek” forces under Gen. Johnson Olony against Nuer forces, predominantly backed by Gen. Simon Gatwech, persisted. Notably, Nuer forces 8-9 Oct attacked Shilluk territory around Kodok area, Fashoda county, displacing thousands and killing unknown number of civilians. Nuer forces 12 Oct retreated after counter-attack by Shilluk Agwelek forces, with clashes then occurring in Atar area of Jonglei state.

In other notable developments. Fighting over disputed border that erupted late Sept between neighbouring Dinka groups from Abyei Administrative Area and Twic County, Warrap state, left scores dead, according to UNMISS statement published 14 Oct; govt 13 Oct deployed troops to ease tensions. UN Humanitarian Agency 11 Oct reported that fourth consecutive year of major floods have affected at least 909,000 people across country.

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In The News

9 Aug 2021
There is still no sign of a broader reset in South Sudanese politics [...] instead, the divisions just keep mounting. New York Times

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
9 Jul 2021
[South Sudan] is just, unfortunately, in a much worse spot than it was 10 years ago. Whenever I talk with various diplomats from different countries [...] they all fear c... Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
13 Aug 2020
Disarmament in South Sudan resembles an abusive counterinsurgency operation, not an orderly collection of arms, which the local militias often resist giving up. The New York Times

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
8 May 2020
The disagreement between Kiir and Machar has endangered the gains made toward a lasting peace. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
20 Feb 2020
"[South Sudan president Kiir and former rebel leader Machar] still have much to work through, but Machar was unlikely to extract more significant concessions before formi... Reuters

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
16 Feb 2020
[In South Sudan] the dispute over the configuration of states became a major impasse blocking the peace process from moving towards a unity government. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa

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Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
Alan Boswell
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Shewit Woldemichael

Senior Analyst, Sudan
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