Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition

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Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition
LeaderRiek Machar
Chief of General StaffsSimon Gatwech Dual
Secretary-generalTingo Peter Regbigo[1]
Split fromSudan People's Liberation Movement
HeadquartersPagak (until 2017)
Juba (2019–)[2]
National Legislative Assembly
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Party flag
Flag of South Sudan.svg

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (abbreviated SPLM-IO), also known as the anti-governmental forces (AGF), is a mainly South Sudanese political party and rebel group that split from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in 2013, due to political tensions between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar over leadership of the SPLM. Tensions grew between forces loyal to Kiir and Machar and South Sudan plunged into the South Sudanese Civil War.[3] [4]

The party and militia are led by Riek Machar.[5][6] Machar also appointed General Simon Gatwech Dual as Army Chief of General Staff, deputized by DCoGS for operations, training, political and moral orientation, logistics, administration and finance.[7]


During the Nasir convention in April 2014, the rebels in the South Sudanese Civil War were split on whether to maintain an affiliation with the ruling SPLM party. While Maj. Gen. Garouth Gatkuoth and many generals spoke against a SPLM affiliation, Angelina Teny and much of the leadership were in favor, leading Riek Machar to defer a final decision. The group decided on the provisional name SPLM-SPLA.[8] Shortly after the meeting, however, the media began to call the group the SPLM-in-Opposition, due to its opposition to the governing SPLM party.


By May 2018, the SPLM/A-IO had set up a "parallel bush government" in Upper Nile, rivalling the government in Juba. People in rebel-held areas did no longer accept South Sudanese currency which had lost its worth due to hyperinflation, and instead used United States dollars and Ethiopian birr.[9]

The party's ideology (or in some cases, the lack thereof) is essentially identical to the original SPLM, and only differs in the fact that the split between the two was mostly along ethnic lines, with the SPLM-IO representing the same Nuer ethnic group as leader Riek Machar.

Armed wing

SPLA-IO soldiers in April 2016.

The military forces of the SPLM-IO are known as "Sudan People's Liberation Army-in-Opposition" (abbreviated "SPLA-IO") and consist of deserters from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), alongside the private armies of rebel warlords and tribal militias. Those elements of the South Sudanese military that joined the SPLA-IO have done so to protect tribal interests or felt marginalized by the government due to their previous membership in the SSDF.[10] Despite attempts by Machar to attract other ethnic groups to his cause, the SPLA-IO is dominated by Nuer people.[11] Parts of the SPLA-IO are known to recruit child soldiers.[12]

In 2017 SPLA-IO lost the town of Pagak on the Ethiopian border during a government offensive.


The SPLA-IO did not have a formal military structure until the Pagak I conference in December 2014, after a year of war. Riek Machar created the following structure[13]:

Simon Gatwich as chief of general staff with the following deputies:

  • Maj. Gen. Peter Gadet Yak, operations
  • Maj. Gen. Garouth Gatkouth, logistics
  • Maj. Gen. Dau Atujong, training
  • Maj. Gen. Martin Kenyi, moral orientation
  • Maj. Gen. Elias Juda Kulang, administration
  • Maj. Gen. Moses Chot Riek, military production
  • Maj. Gen. John Both Teny, general headquarters command
  • Maj. Gen. Gabriel Tang Gatwich Chan, inspector general.

Along with the following commands:

See also


  1. ^ Young (2017), p. 38.
  2. ^ "SPLM-IO to relocate headquarters to Juba". September 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Niels Kastfelt, Religion and African Civil Wars, page 28.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "S. Sudanese army abandons positions in Jonglei: rebel spokesperson - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  6. ^ "South Sudan opposition head Riek Machar denies coup bid". BBC News. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  7. ^ Cusack, Robert. "South Sudan rebels capture oil workers following $500mn contract". alaraby. Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  8. ^ Young, John. "A Fractious Rebellion: Inside the SPLM-IO" (PDF). p. 43.
  9. ^ Martell (2018), p. 271.
  10. ^ John Young (September 2015). "The SPLM-in-Opposition". Small Arms Survey. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. ^ Young (2017), pp. 36–40.
  12. ^ Jason Patinkin (15 May 2018). "Ceasefire monitors accuse South Sudan forces, rebels of civilian killings". Reuters. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  13. ^ Young, John. "A Fractious Rebellion: Inside the SPLM-IO" (PDF). p. 46.

Works Cited

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