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Ruling party launched preparations for elections planned for 2023, sparking tensions in parliament; high levels of cattle-related violence persisted in several states. VP Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) MPs 13 June walked out of Legislative Assembly in protest at alleged procedural irregularities during late May approval of Political Parties Amendment Bill; vote marked key step on road to general elections set for 2023. President Salva Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Government (SPLM) in June also launched party registration drive and reshuffled officials at state and local levels to advance political mobilisation. Notably, Kiir 6-8 June replaced Chief Administrator of Ruweng Administrative Area and two deputy governors in Jonglei and Upper Nile states. Meanwhile, revival of project to dredge Nile waters sparked backlash. Govt 8 June confirmed it signed deal with Egypt in 2021 on dredging of White Nile tributaries by Egyptian companies. Lawyer around 13 June filed lawsuit against govt at East African Court of Justice, arguing project will cause “damages to the environment” and “substantial and irreparable loss” of pastoral and agricultural livelihoods. In Warrap state, govt forces 25-26 June clashed with cattle keepers in Tonj North County; Warrap govt said 18 senior and junior officers killed, while locals put death toll at 43. Local authorities in Warrap’s Twic county 27 June said attacks by armed youth from Abyei Administrative Area previous day left several people killed and hundreds displaced. In Unity state, tension persisted between ethnic Nuer sub-groups as authorities in Mayendit county early June reportedly accused individuals from Leer county of attacking Haak Nuer civilians. In Central Equatoria state, suspected herders 24 June killed nine people in Juba county’s Lokiliri village, prompting state govt to deploy forces in area. Ugandan troops early June briefly deployed into Eastern Equatoria state after accusing South Sudanese gunmen of raiding cattle in Uganda; subsequent gunfire between govt forces and Ugandan forces 4 June left at least one South Sudanese soldier dead in Magwi county. Meanwhile, World Food Programme 14 June announced reduction by almost one third of food aid to country despite soaring needs due to funding shortages and rising costs.
While main signatories of 2018 peace deal reached new agreement on unified armed forces command, deadly fighting displaced thousands in north. Following late-March spike in tensions between President Kiir and his long-time rival, VP Riek Machar, leaders 3 April agreed to implement key provision of 2018 peace agreement and form unified armed forces command; under Sudanese-brokered security deal, Kiir’s forces got 60% of key leadership posts in national security institutions, while Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) took remaining 40%. Following deal, Machar immediately announced he would lift weeks-long suspension of participation in security and ceasefire mechanisms that underpinned 2018 peace deal. Kiir 12 April ordered military officers loyal to Machar be officially integrated into unified army command. Violent clashes 8 April erupted between Machar’s SPLM/A-IO and forces allied to govt in Leer county of Unity state; local authorities 11 April reported around 14,000 people displaced and at least 35 killed, including SPLM/A-IO senior leader James Gatjung Dok, in several days of fighting. In Upper Nile state, govt forces and SPLM/A-IO troops mid-April accused each other of attacks in Maban county. Ethnic Misseriya militiamen from Sudan 13 April attacked three villages in disputed Abyei Administrative Area, reportedly killing over 40 people. Violence also continued in Jonglei and Lakes states. Notably, cattle-related violence 16 April reportedly killed four people in Jonglei’s Nyirol county. Lakes state authorities said four people killed and five wounded 1 April in Rumbek East county when youth from Unity state carried out cattle raids. Intercommunal clashes 8-12 April reportedly killed at least eight people in Eastern Equatoria state and neighbouring Greater Pibor Administrative Area (south east). UN Food and Agriculture Organization Representative in South Sudan Meshack Malo around 12 April said “two-thirds” of country’s population “will likely face hunger between May and July”.
Fighting continued between VP Riek Machar’s forces and breakaway Kitgwang faction; rebel group National Salvation Front faced military pressure in Equatoria region; intercommunal and other violence persisted. Clashes between Machar’s Sudan’s People Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) on one hand, and breakaway Kitgwang faction headed by Simon Gatwech and govt-aligned forces on the other, 6 Feb reportedly killed ten in Nasir and Longechuk counties of Upper Nile state. Fighting mid- to late Feb also pitted Machar loyalists against either Kitgwang or President Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Government forces in several counties of Unity state. Repeated clashes between Thomas Cirillo’s National Salvation Front (NAS) and South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) reported late Jan and early Feb in Lainya and Wonduruba areas of Central Equatoria state, and in Western Equatoria state. Gen Paul Malong’s holdout rebel group South Sudan United Front (SSUF) and SSPDF soldiers 9 Feb also reportedly clashed near Lakes state’s capital Rumbek; SSUF 11 Feb claimed to have killed six govt soldiers. Intercommunal and other violence continued in several states. Cattle-related violence 7 Feb killed five in Uror county of Jonglei state. Lakes state police reported security forces and suspected criminals 9 Feb clashed, leaving at least six killed in Cueibet county. Assailants believed to come from Twic county (Warrap state) 10 Feb reportedly killed four people in Rumamer county of Abyei Administrative Area. Violent clashes between youth from Ruweng Administrative Area and youth from Guit county (Unity state) 12 Feb left at least 23 dead near Longlei village, Unity state. Jonglei state authorities said armed men from Ayod and Nyirol counties 18 Feb attacked cattle camp in Uror county leaving 16 people dead and sparking several days of intercommunal clashes. Eastern Equatoria state officials said clashes between cattle raiders and pastoralists 27 Feb left at least 20 people dead in Magwi county. Unidentified gunmen 28 Feb attacked UN food convoy in Gadiang area, Jonglei state, leaving at least one injured.
Breakaway Kitgwang faction of VP Machar’s forces signed agreement with President Kiir to become part of 2018 peace deal, prompting end of Machar-Kitgwang hostilities; intercommunal violence persisted. Talks between Kitgwang faction officials – who broke away from Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in Aug 2021 – and Kiir’s govt 11 Jan started in Sudan’s capital Khartoum; both sides 16 Jan reached agreement for Kitgwang faction to become part of 2018 peace deal and be integrated within South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF). Machar next day ordered his forces to stop hostilities with Kitgwang forces, saying 2018 ceasefire between SSPDF and SPLM/A-IO now applies to Kitgwang. Meanwhile, SPLM/A-IO forces 8-14 Jan clashed with SSPDF in Upper Nile state, resulting in at least three fatalities; SPLM/A-IO around 24 Jan accused SSPDF of attacking its position in Unity State’s Koch county twice in last two weeks. Suspected SPLM/A-IO forces 10-12 Jan attacked local chief and other civilians in Jur River county, Western Bahr El Ghazal state; at least two killed on both sides. Meanwhile, holdout rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) 13 Jan claimed to have repelled SSPDF attack on NAS positions in Central Equatoria state’s Juba county 5 Jan; also said authorities arrested 14 civilians including local chiefs, women and youth on charges of supporting NAS. Intercommunal violence continued in several states. In Jonglei state, suspected ethnic Murle armed group 23 Jan killed at least 32 ethnic Dinka people in Baidit locality, Bor South county. In Lakes state, intercommunal clashes between Atuot-Luac and Jieleek clans 8 Jan left one dead in Yirol West county. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, violence by Sudanese pastoralists reportedly spiked in late Dec-early Jan. Notably, state authorities said Masseriya tribesmen from Sudan 4 Jan launched attack in Yihn Pabol area in Aweil East county, leaving two dead and four injured. World Food Programme Representative in South Sudan Matthew Hollingworth early Jan warned year ahead could be country’s hungriest ever as “food insecurity is at horrific levels”.
Deadly fighting erupted between VP Machar’s forces and breakaway faction, and between govt forces and NAS insurgency; stalled military integration process caused growing alarm. Clashes between Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) forces of VP Riek Machar and breakaway Kitgwang faction 26 Dec reportedly left 50 killed in Magenis area, Upper Nile state. Kitgwang faction 28 Dec claimed control of Amoud and Okuri areas, said Machar’s forces cleared from northern Upper Nile; SPLM/A-IO same day confirmed Kitgwang forces 27 Dec took over Amoud base. After Kiir late Nov promised return to Rome peace talks with armed groups outside of 2018 deal, including Thomas Cirillo’s National Salvation Front (NAS) insurgency in Central and Western Equatoria states, fighting between NAS and govt forces 7 Dec reportedly left seven dead in Central Equatoria’s Lainya county; incident represents most serious flare-up of insurgent violence in area in recent months. NAS next day warned of pending “scorched-earth offensive” by govt forces in Central Equatoria’s Morobo county, said govt plans to clear area of its population to pave way for gold mining. Intercommunal violence persisted. In Eastern Equatoria state, Kenyan Turkana raiders 5 Dec attacked South Sudanese Toposa cattle keepers in Nadapal area in Kapoeta East county, leaving two killed and three injured; local officials reported five people killed 13 Dec during cattle-related attack in Komiri Payam, Budi county. In Lakes state, armed Nuer youth from Panyijar county (Unity State) 1 Dec reportedly attacked and killed three people in Amongpiny area, Rumbek Central county. In Unity state, cattle-related fighting between armed youths from Leer and Mayendit counties 2 Dec killed at least six. In Jonglei state, amid series of cattle raids and abductions attributed to ethnic Murle raiders, armed men 5 Dec reportedly abducted five children in Nyirol county. Both regional and UN monitors expressed growing alarm over stalled implementation of 2018 peace deal, particularly failure to unify ex-warring security forces into national army. Charles Tai Gituai, interim chair of peace monitoring body, 8 Dec warned stalled security process leading to “growing frustrations”. UN Sec-Gen Special Representative Nicholas Haysom 15 Dec also stressed new “headwinds” could threaten peace accord.
President Kiir launched talks with breakaway faction of VP Machar’s party, raising tensions within unity govt; violence continued in south and centre. In Sudan’s capital Khartoum, govt delegation 2 Oct started formal talks with “Kitgwang” faction of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), which broke away from VP Riek Machar’s leadership in Aug. Splinter group – headed by Machar’s ethnic Nuer former military chief of staff, Gen Simon Gatwech Dual, and prominent ethnic Shilluk warlord, Gen Johnson Olony– demanded all govt seats currently allocated to Machar’s party, sought to negotiate integration into national army, and championed ethnic Shilluk territorial claims around disputed Upper Nile state capital Malakal. In response, Machar’s party rejected Kitgwang faction’s claim to any share of its current govt positions and accused Kiir of fomenting division in SPLM/A-IO ranks that led to split. Violence in Tambura area of Western Equatoria state (south) continued as Juba’s order for all armed groups to leave Tambura by 1 Oct unheeded; humanitarian agencies including World Food Programme and World Vision International reportedly evacuated staff from Tambura after gunshots between warring parties 14 Oct. Conflict took on increasingly communal tones, pitting local ethnic Azande, dominant group in state, against local ethnic Balanda; Balanda seen as loyal to Machar’s appointed state governor, Alfred Fatuyo, while Azande forces largely commanded by Fatuyo’s ex-deputy, James Nando, who last year defected from Machar to Kiir’s camp. Violence also ran high in centre. In Warrap state’s Tonj East and Tonj North counties, intercommunal clashes between Thiik, Luachjang and Lou Paher youth communities around 3 Oct reportedly left at least 35 people dead and another 80 injured, and displaced thousands. In neighbouring Unity state, clashes between forces loyal to senior county official and unidentified armed group 6 Oct killed one and injured another seven in Koch county. UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan 20 Oct expressed “alarm and dismay” over “ongoing threats, harassment and intimidation of prominent human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors” by “overzealous security services”, said shrinking space for civil society “undermining efforts to achieve a sustainable peace”.