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SSDM/A-Upper Nile faction

Johnson Olony, a Shilluk from Panyakang county in Upper Nile, was one of Robert Gwang’s deputies until Gwang integrated into the SPLA in late 2010. The Shilluk insurgencies were initially driven by disputes between the Shilluk community and the government of Upper Nile over land and county boundaries, and were galvanized by the 2010 disarmament campaign in which the SPLA 7th Division reportedly committed large-scale abuses. Initially, Olony and his men spent a number of months waiting for integration into the SPLA in Owachi near 7th Division headquarters, but the process fell apart in March 2011 after one of Olony’s men accused an SPLA soldier of raping his wife, and Olony’s men demanded justice. In the ensuing battle, 14 were killed. Olony took his men across the border into South Kordofan and aligned with the SSDM/A under Athor. After Athor’s death in December 2011 and Awan’s peace deal in early 2012, Olony claimed overall leadership of the SSDM/A. The government repeatedly alleges that the Shilluk militia are aligned with, and receive support from, the SPLM-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) political party, which SPLM-DC leader Lam Akol denies.

In late 2012 and early 2013, Olony’s troops had made few forays into South Sudan, and it was reported by a number of sources that they were being used by Sudan to fight the SPLM-N in South Kordofan. Although Olony initially publically rejected the presidential amnesty in April 2013, and released a statement that he would never surrender to the ‘SPLM Regime’, in May 2013 the Shilluk king issued an ultimatum to Olony to accept the amnesty. Olony then requested pardon from the king for killing a Shilluk chief in 2010, which was granted. In early June 2013 Olony officially accepted the presidential amnesty and moved with 3,000 troops into Upper Nile. The majority of his troops remain in Kodok in Fashoda county, where as of October 2013 they await integration into the SPLA. Olony is currently in Juba where he is negotiating integration terms, but deliberations are moving quite slowly. In a 6 June statement, Olony stated that he had received support from Khartoum in his insurgent activities, and a Small Arms Survey inspection in July of his weapons in Kodok confirmed this.

Command structure and military assets. Olony has also been closely linked to Alyuak Ogot Akol, the former commissioner of Manyo county, and the two militia were co-located for much of the time. In June 2013, three months before Ogot accepted amnesty, his men attacked Wadakona in northern Upper Nile.

Areas of control. Throughout 2012 and into 2013, Olony’s troops mainly operated in Fashoda and Manyo counties of Upper Nile, but were reported to move freely within South Kordofan, as well. In early 2012 they were colocated with Matthew Puljang and Bapiny’s SSLM/A troops in Kilo 23 between Hejlij and Kharasana, where their troops reportedly received training and were provisioned by Khartoum. A number of sources reported that Olony’s militia had participated in the cross-border skirmishes along the South Kordofan border, and that he had occupied Jaw with SAF in early 2012. However, by August 2012 there were divisions within the SSLM/A and they moved further west to the Upper Nile border, where they remained until accepting amnesty.

Updated 6 November 2013