CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 80 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Govt and former rebel opposition groups agreed to end stalemate over formation of state and county govts in all but one state; meanwhile intercommunal violence continued. Govt and former rebel opposition groups 9 Dec agreed to move forward with formation of state and county govts, except in contested Upper Nile state, as well as with reconstitution of national legislature; parties agreed to organise peace and reconciliation conference to bring together Upper Nile communities prior to appointment of state governor, over which President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar have been at odds since June; Machar mid-Dec, however, indefinitely postponed conference. Kiir 30 Dec appointed six out of ten deputy state governors. In bid to reassert control over Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), Machar 1-5 Dec organised national party conference; dissent has been mounting in SPLA-IO’s ranks over slow implementation of Sept 2018 peace agreement. Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development 20 Dec formally confirmed there are no travel restrictions on Machar. Govt and holdout rebel group National Salvation Front early Dec held talks in Italy’s capital Rome but failed to reach breakthrough on draft ten-point Declaration of Principles aimed at guiding future political negotiations. In Central Equatoria state in south, Kiir’s forces and SPLA-IO clashed several times throughout month in Kajo-Keji county. In Western Equatoria state in south, unidentified gunmen 16 Dec reportedly attacked SPLA-IO in Mvolo county. In Upper Nile state in east, unidentified gunmen mid-Dec reportedly attacked SPLA-IO in Maban county. Meanwhile, intercommunal violence persisted across country. In Central Equatoria state, cattle-related violence killed at least 43 throughout month in Terekeka and Lainya counties. In Lakes state in centre, cattle raids and intercommunal violence throughout month killed at least 29 in Yirol east, Cueibet and Awerial counties. In Warrap state, also in centre, intercommunal clashes mid-Dec left seven dead in Tonj North county.
Efforts to form govts at state and local levels continued, and holdout rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) agreed to join peace agreement’s ceasefire monitoring body. Former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) mid-Nov said it would not submit its nominees for state minister and county commissioner positions until President Salva Kiir appoints Machar’s pick for governor of contested Upper Nile state; late Nov reportedly agreed to formation of state and local governments except in Upper Nile state. Machar continued to face mounting dissent within SPLA-IO, whose Sec Gen Peter Tingo 10 Nov resigned, citing Machar’s poor leadership. South Sudan National Dialogue, launched by Kiir in 2017, mid-Nov recommended to return country to 32 states; measure, if implemented, could derail transition as Kiir’s decision in Feb 2020 to revert country to its original ten states had paved way for formation of unity govt. In Italy’s capital Rome, govt and NAS 9-13 Nov held talks aimed at incorporating NAS into peace agreement’s ceasefire monitoring body (CTSAMVM); after briefly walking out of talks, accusing govt of violating ceasefire in Central Equatoria state in south 10 Nov, NAS agreed to join CTSAMVM in Jan 2021. In Warrap state in centre, intercommunal clashes 8-9 Nov left at least 16 dead and several dozen injured in Tonj East county; UN 17 Nov said more than 1,000 people had died in past six months in intercommunal violence in Warrap state. In Jonglei state in east, intercommunal clashes early to mid-Nov left at least 13 dead in Fangak county. In Upper Nile state in east, unidentified gunmen 4 Nov killed two prominent ethnic Shilluk in state capital Malakal. In Central Equatoria state in south, former SPLA-IO senior commander who in Sept defected to Kiir’s forces late Nov reportedly attacked SPLA-IO base in Kajo-Keji county. UN Security Council 12 Nov extended mandate of peacekeeping force in contested Abyei region until May 2021.
Govt and holdout rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) agreed to three-month ceasefire while govt and former rebel groups made slow progress in local power-sharing negotiations. Negotiations between govt and coalition of non-signatory rebel groups, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), 9-12 Oct resumed in Italy’s capital, Rome; amid internal frictions, SSOMA split into two camps prompting govt to hold separate talks with NAS, during which they agreed on seven of ten principles of draft Declaration of Principles aimed at guiding future political negotiations; NAS 18 Oct said it had agreed to three-month ceasefire and that it would only commit to open-ended cessation of hostilities once parties agreed on all ten principles. Meanwhile, govt and signatory opposition groups 20 Oct broke deadlock over allocation of county commissioner positions and President Kiir next day asked former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar and other parties to submit nominees for ministerial and county commissioner positions; disagreement persisted over appointment of Upper Nile state governor. In Unity state in north, Paul Malong’s SSOMA faction South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) early Oct defected to Kiir’s forces and 20 Oct launched attack on Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), killing at least one near state capital Bentiu. In Central Equatoria state in south, former SPLA-IO senior commander who in Sept defected to Kiir’s forces 4 Oct launched attack on SPLA-IO base in Kajo-Keji county, reportedly leaving at least two dead. Unidentified gunmen early Oct killed son of former Central Equatoria governor between Juba and Terekeka counties, reportedly prompting reprisal that 9 Oct killed at least six. In Eastern Equatoria state, cattle raids 3-12 Oct left four dead in Torit and Budi counties. Clashes between South Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers along border 27 Oct reportedly left two dead on each side. In centre, intercommunal clashes 7 Oct killed at least ten in Tonj county, Warrap state. Raiders 17-18 Oct killed five cattle traders in Cueibet county, Lakes state. Unidentified gunmen 5 Oct attacked World Food Programme boat-convoy carrying food assistance from Jonglei state to Upper Nile state (east), one crew member missing.
Govt and former rebel opposition groups continued negotiations on implementation of power-sharing deal at state and local levels while violence persisted across country. Govt and former rebel opposition groups mid-Sept reached agreement on allocation of ministerial positions at state level, 24 Sept resolved deadlock over total number of counties and agreed on allocation of all but 11 county commissioner positions. President Salva Kiir and former rebel turned VP Riek Machar, however, remained at odds over latter’s pick for governor of contested Upper Nile state. Rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS), which refused to be part of 2018 peace deal, continued to launch attacks in Central Equatoria state in south. Suspected NAS combatants 1 Sept killed two civilians in Yiei River county. UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) next day deployed troops to establish temporary base in Lobonok county following recent surge in suspected NAS attacks against civilians and aid workers there; 8 Sept announced its troops had been blocked from reaching Lobonok by govt. NAS next day reportedly repelled joint attack by Kiir’s and Machar’s forces on its positions in Morobo county, five reported dead on both sides. After UNMISS early Sept began withdrawing its forces from civilian protection camps across country, thousands of internally displaced persons 10, 22 and 28 Sept took to streets of capital Juba, Jonglei state capital Bor town and Unity state capital Bentiu, respectively, calling on UNMISS to reconsider its withdrawal. Intercommunal and other violence remained high in centre. In Unity state, cattle raid 9 sept left 17 dead in Mayom county and intercommunal tit-for-tat attacks 20-21 Sept left at least five dead in Mayendit county. In Warrap and Lakes state, attacks by unidentified assailants and intercommunal clashes 1-25 Sept left at least 30 dead in several counties. As govt continued to face massive budgetary shortfalls amid low oil prices, Kiir 16 Sept fired Finance Minister Salvatore Garang Mabiordit Wol along with heads of National Revenue Authority and state-owned oil company Nile Petroleum Corporation.
Govt and former rebel opposition groups reached wider agreement on local power-sharing while disarmament campaign sparked deadly violence in centre. Following months-long deadlock, President Kiir, former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and Other Political Parties (OPP) 10 Aug signed agreement on power sharing at state and county levels; deal, which complements June agreement on appointment of state governors, allocates seats on state cabinets, state legislatures, county commissions, and county councils. Kiir and Machar however remain at loggerheads over latter’s pick for governor of contested Upper Nile state. In centre, govt-led disarmament campaign in Kiir’s stronghold Warrap state 8-9 Aug triggered clashes between security forces and ethnic Dinka militias refusing to disarm, leaving at least 148 dead on both sides in Tonj East County; UN mission 11 Aug dispatched peacekeeping patrol to area, next day said it had set up temporary base in Tonj town to deter further violence. In south, rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS), which refused to be part of Sept 2018 peace agreement, 5 Aug reportedly attacked army base in Gorom Payam, 15km outside capital Juba; NAS claimed eleven soldiers killed. NAS 13 Aug said it had repelled same day attack by Kiir-aligned South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and Machar’s SPLA-IO on its positions outside Kajo Keji town, Central Equatoria state; four reportedly killed on both sides. NAS 19 Aug killed six bodyguards of VP James Wani in Lobonok County, also Central Equatoria. Intercommunal violence persisted. In Lakes state in centre, intercommunal clash between Nyang and Amothnhom youth 5 Aug left at least six dead in Rumbek Central County. Kiir 13 Aug declared state of emergency in Jonglei state and Greater Pibor Administrative Area in east, citing recent violence between local ethnic Dinka and Nuer on one side, and ethnic Murle on the other, and rainy season-related floods. Govt and Sudan 26 Aug vowed to settle dispute over contested Abyei region.
Intercommunal violence escalated in east leaving dozens dead, implementation of local power-sharing agreement stalled, and ceasefire between President Kiir and VP Riek Machar’s forces broke down in west. In east, intercommunal clashes intensified in Jonglei state. Notably, unidentified gunmen 2 July killed four in Poktap village; suspected ethnic Murle youth next day attacked Duk Padiet town, leaving at least 39 dead; at least seven were also killed 13 July in cattle raid in Pajut town; gunmen reportedly crossing over from Pibor Administrative Area 27 July killed about 17 people in Makol-cuei village. In Lakes state in centre, intercommunal violence 4 July left four dead in Cueibet County. In Warrap state, also in centre, 15 were killed in cattle raid in Tonj North county 24 July. President Kiir 8 July said govt would launch nationwide disarmament program and intercommunal dialogue initiatives to address mounting intercommunal violence. Following June agreement between Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar which granted Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) governorship of contested Upper Nile state, Kiir’s spokesperson 2 July said he would not appoint Machar’s pick General Johnson Olony over accusations he violated peace agreement by not sending SPLA-IO forces to cantonment sites for unification with govt troops into national army; Kiir 20 July urged Machar to nominate other candidate. Machar’s SPLA-IO and Kiir-aligned South Sudan People’s Defense Forces 18-19 July exchanged fire in Wau, Western Bar El Gazal state, after latter 18 July arrested SPLA-IO fighters in Nyabor area. UN Security Council 13 July and regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) next day urged govt to form legislative assembly and implement security arrangements; IGAD 14 July said in absence of progress in implementation of transitional measures by 14 Aug its chairperson would intervene to mediate between parties and attempt to break deadlock. In south, rebel group National Salvation Front, which refused to be part of Sept 2018 peace agreement, 19 July said it had repelled attacks by govt forces on its positions in Liria county 16 July and Lobonok county 18 July, killing five soldiers.
In major breakthrough, President Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar reached agreement on local power-sharing, while intercommunal violence persisted in east and centre, and tensions emerged within Kiir’s political base. Kiir and Machar 17 June reached consensus on appointment of state governors, ending three-month deadlock; Machar obtained appointment of governor of contested Upper Nile state instead of South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA); SSOA to appoint governor of Jonglei state instead. Kiir 29 June appointed eight of ten governors; Upper Nile state governor not appointed despite Machar reportedly submitting nomination; SSOA continued to debate appointment for Jonglei state. Deputy Interior Minister Mabior Garang de Mabior 3 June resigned to protest stalled implementation of transitional security arrangements; official body monitoring unification of armed groups into single army 10 June warned training and cantonment sites “near collapse” over lack of resources and logistical support. Intercommunal violence continued in Jonglei state in east. Notably, suspected ethnic Murle gunmen reportedly killed ten people in cattle raid in Jalle area 17 June; unidentified gunmen reportedly killed 12 people in Makuach area 19 June. Kiir 23 June formed committee to ease tensions between ethnic Dinka, ethnic Lou Nuer, and ethnic Murle. Intercommunal clashes also persisted in centre, allegedly killing 69 in Warrap and Lakes states 25-29 June. Rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS), which refused to be part of Sept 2018 peace agreement, 3 June claimed Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition had killed 15 civilians in Central Equatoria state in south 31 May. UN Mission in South Sudan 9 June and EU 11 June called on govt and NAS to abide by truce brokered in Jan. Tensions mounted within Kiir’s political base. relative of Kiir 3 June killed four civilians in clash over land dispute in capital Juba, sparking intra-Dinka tensions and prompting some 1,000 residents to take to streets same day; govt next day established investigative committee. Former political prisoner Kerbino Wol Agok, member of Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group, 5 June announced creation of new rebel group “7th of Oct Movement”; govt forces 14 June killed Agok during military operation in Lakes state, sparking public outcry.
Intercommunal violence between ethnic Murle and ethnic Lou Nuer surged in east leaving hundreds dead; negotiations over local power-sharing between President Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar remained stalled, while clashes between govt and holdout rebel group escalated in south. Intercommunal violence flared up in east and centre. In Jonglei state in east, ethnic Murle 16-17 May reportedly attacked several ethnic Lou Nuer villages in Uror county leaving up to 300 dead. In Warrap state in centre, attack by unidentified assailants 14 May left twelve dead in Apuk North county. In Lakes state, also in centre, inter-clan violence reportedly left fifteen dead 18 May. Kiir 7 May said meeting of six-member unity presidency same day had yielded consensus over appointment of state governors, with six states going to Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Government, three to Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), and contested Upper Nile state to South Sudan Opposition Alliance. Machar immediately rejected purported deal and called on chairman of official peace monitoring body to intervene, who 9 May referred dispute to regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority for Development. Clashes between govt forces – in places together with SPLA-IO – and rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS), which refused to be part of Sept 2018 peace agreement, flared up in Central and Western Equatoria states in south. Fighting, which erupted after Jan truce between govt and non-signatory armed groups broke down in April, displaced thousands of civilians in Central Equatoria; NAS claimed it had repelled attack by govt forces trying to take back territory from insurgents in Katigiri village 5 May, killing four soldiers; govt forces 4-14 May reportedly raided NAS positions in several villages in Lainya county. President Kiir 15 May removed Machar from COVID-19 taskforce and appointed VP Hussein Abdelbagi as new chairman. UN Security Council 29 May extended South Sudan arms embargo and targeted sanctions against individuals until May 2021.
Negotiations between President Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar over local power-sharing stalled, raising concerns over stability of unity govt, while ceasefire with holdout rebel groups in south broke down; intercommunal violence persisted. In meeting in capital Juba 13 April, Kiir and Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) failed to reach compromise over appointment of state governors; Machar maintained peace deal entitles SPLA-IO to nominate three governors, while Kiir said only two; Machar 15 April turned down Kiir’s proposal to appoint caretaker governors. Several SPLA-IO members 16 April defected to Kiir, blaming Machar for turning movement into “family dynasty”. Implementation of transitional security arrangements remained stalled after committee overseeing unification of armed groups into single army late-March suspended process to prevent spread of COVID-19. Negotiations between unity govt and opposition coalition, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), which refused to be part of Sept 2018 deal, remained suspended as govt failed to appoint new delegates. Truce brokered in Jan between govt and non-signatory armed groups broke down in Central Equatoria region in south after SSOMA rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) 9 April attacked Machar’s SPLA-IO forces in Kirinya, Yei River County; number of casualties unknown. SPLA-IO and Kiir-aligned South Sudan People’s Defense Forces reportedly clashed with NAS in Yei, Morobo and Kajo Keji counties 26 April, number of casualties unknown. Intercommunal violence continued in several areas, killing at least 65 throughout month. In Abyei region, disputed between South Sudan and Sudan, ethnic Dinka and nomadic Misseriya herders clashed 9-11 April, leaving at least six killed; Sudan and South Sudan 30 April agreed to cooperate to end violence there. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, govt 21 April ordered release of 1,400 inmates to reduce prison overcrowding and extended partial lockdown until further notice.
Intercommunal violence erupted in centre and east, President Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar made some progress in setting transitional govt in motion, while tensions persisted between govt and holdout rebel group in south despite truce. Intercommunal violence flared up late Feb-early March in centre and east, killing hundreds and displacing thousands by end of month. Notably, clashes between several communities reportedly left 41 dead in Lakes state mid-March and cattle raiders 20 March attacked camp in Tonj South county, Warrap state, leaving 51 dead. Following Feb agreement between Kiir, Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) to form unity govt, Kiir 12 March unveiled cabinet of 35 ministers, of which he appointed twenty, Machar nine, and SSOA three. Three SPLA-IO senior generals 17 March defected to Kiir-aligned South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, citing discontent with Machar’s leadership, reportedly over appointment of his wife Angelina Teny and personal aide Puit Kang to key ministries; another SPLA-IO commander reportedly defected to Kiir 26 March. Amid growing power-vacuum at state level and rise in intercommunal violence, UN 9 March urged Kiir and Machar to resolve deadlock over appointment of governors and implement transitional security arrangements to shore up peace process. Rebel group National Salvation Front, which refused to be part of Sept 2018 peace agreement, 20 March accused govt of violating, in Central Equatoria region in south, truce brokered in Jan between govt and non-signatory armed groups. UN human rights body in South Sudan 9 March released report accusing govt officials and opposition leaders of widespread corruption and of having used child soldiers and starvation as tactic of war. In response to COVID-19, govt 13 March suspended flights from virus-affected countries; 24 March suspended all commercial flights, closed borders, and imposed night curfew; 27 March suspended training of unified army.
In major breakthrough, President Kiir and main rebel leader Riek Machar struck deal entailing significant concessions on both sides and formed unity govt, alleviating fears that failure to reach deal by 22 Feb deadline would spark violence. In meeting brokered by regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Sudanese PM Hamdok and Ugandan President Museveni in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 9 Feb, Kiir and Machar discussed number and borders of states, main stumbling block in negotiations to form govt. To break deadlock, Kiir 15 Feb acceded to opposition’s request to reduce number of states from 32 to ten, but proposed three new administrative areas, which Machar rejected. Machar and Kiir 17 Feb held new round of talks in capital Juba, including on security arrangements. Under rising international pressure to reach compromise, Kiir 20 Feb struck agreement with Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In-Opposition and South Sudan Opposition Alliance to form unity govt; 22 Feb swore in Machar as first VP, to be protected by presidential guard brigade until unified army is formed. Unification of govt troops and rebel forces into national army, scheduled under Sept 2018 peace agreement to be completed prior to forming unity govt, remained behind schedule. Negotiations between govt and opposition coalition, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), which refused to be part of Sept 2018 deal, resumed in Rome, Italy, 12-13 Feb; SSOMA 14 Feb signed resolution outlining implementation and monitoring of truce brokered in Jan; next round of talks set for March. SSOMA 24 Feb called for peace talks with newly created unity govt.
President Kiir and main rebel leader Riek Machar failed to close gap between their positions on outstanding issues raising risk that they fail to reach agreement by 22 Feb deadline to form unity govt potentially triggering new violence; govt struck ceasefire agreement with armed groups that did not sign Sept 2018 deal; fighting continued in west. Deadlock persisted over number and borders of states: Kiir insisted on maintaining or increasing existing 32 states, while opposition groups pushed for 23 states plus Abyei. South African deputy president David Mabuza, invited to mediate by Kiir and Machar, 16 Jan proposed that 90-day arbitration committee of foreign, regional, and international representatives settle issue; South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSAA) and Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) rejected proposal, demanding issue be resolved before formation of unity govt. Unification of govt and rebel forces into national army made some progress with SPLA-IO troops early Jan starting to move to cantonment sites in Jonglei, Torit and Wau states. Govt and opposition coalition South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), who refused to be part of Sept 2018 peace deal, 13 Jan signed Rome Declaration in Italy, agreeing to cease hostilities, discuss mechanisms to resolve differences, and guarantee humanitarian access. Ceasefire took effect 15 Jan, no major violations by end month. Kiir 29 Jan granted amnesty to all SSOMA factions. Second round of talks expected in Feb. Fighting continued between govt forces and armed groups in Maiwut county, Gambella region near border with Ethiopia. Suspected nomadic Misseriya herders from Sudan 22 Jan reportedly killed 32 people and burnt houses in Dinka village of Kolom, in disputed Abyei area. U.S. 8 Jan imposed sanctions on VP Gai for allegedly ordering murder of opposition figure Aggrey Idri Ezibon and human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak in 2017.