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SSLM/A

Peter Gadet, a Bul Nuer from Mayom county, Unity state, defected from the SPLA in March 2011 and released the Mayom Declaration on 11 April 2011, which criticized the SPLM leadership and announced the formation of the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A) with the intention of bringing down the government and replacing it with a more democratic and broad-based coalition. He was also able to bring in a number of other Nuer militia groups under his wing, including those of Kolchara Nyang, James Gai Yoach, and Matthew Puljang, who were fighting in Unity, as well as Bapiny Monytuil and Karlos Kuol, who were in Khartoum.

From mid-April until August 2011, the SSLM/A and SPLA forces engaged in violent attacks that caught communities in the crossfire, mainly in Abiemnom and Mayom counties in Unity, although the violence spilled over into Lakes and Warrap states. During the fighting a number of roads in Unity were mined, with both the SSLM/A and SPLA blamed, causing casualties and also blocking road access to some parts of the state. In August 2011, Gadet signed a peace agreement with the government and was integrated into the SPLA. In March 2012, he was made the deputy head of the army’s Operation Restore Peace, the Jonglei disarmament process during which the SPLA committed a number of abuses against civilians in Pibor county. In March 2013 the SPLA deployed Gadet to oversee the military response to the SSDM/A-Cobra faction in Jonglei, but he remains a volatile figure. After Gadet’s reintegration, there remained a number of active SSLM/A fighters who had broken away from him, operating along the South Kodofan-Unity state border under the leadership of Gai Yoach.

Command structure and military assets. James Gai Yoach assumed leadership of the remnants of the SSLM/A after Peter Gadet rejoined the SPLA. While the militia remained united for a number of months after Gadet’s departure, they began to split following the battle of Hejlij (April 2012), when SAF heavily armed the SSLM/A. Control over weapons was the ostensible reason for the fragmentation. There was an alleged leadership shuffle in early August 2012, with fighting between Kochara Nyang and Mathew Puljang in Nyama, which resulted in the death of Kolchara. In late September 2012, Gai Yoach was arrested in Khartoum, and Bapiny Monituel took over command. Why he was arrested is unknown, but Khartoum may have done so to prove to Juba that it was cutting back on its support for Southern rebels following an August 2012 agreement. Bapiny or others may also have suggested that Gai Yoach was about to defect. Finally, it is possible he was involved in the November 2012 coup attempt in Khartoum.

In May 2013, the Small Arms Survey visited SSLM/A forces that accepted amnesty in late April. At that time, Bapiny and Karlo Kual, the movement’s leaders, were in Juba beginning negotiations with the government, and the local forces were under the command of Matthew Puljang. Weapons observed included Chinese Type 56 and Type 56-1 assault rifles with ammunition, Chinese CQ (M16-pattern) assault rifles with Chinese 5.56 × 45 mm ammunition, Iranian and Sudanese RPG-7-pattern rocket launchers and associated ammunition, PKM-pattern and DShK-pattern machine guns with associated ammunition, 60 mm, 82 mm, 120 mm mortars with associated rounds (Sudanese 60 mm and 82 mm, and Chinese 120 mm), and larger conventional weapons such as anti-aircraft and recoilless guns, BM-12-pattern 107 mm rocket launchers and rockets, 23 mm twin-barrelled cannons, and 122 mm rockets. This arsenal represented the most significant stockpile ever observed in Southern insurgent hands by the Small Arms Survey

Areas of control. The SSLM/A are blamed for a number of offences in Mayom county in November 2011 and April 2012,although there have also been a number of reports of SPLA abuses and killings of civilians in Mayom, as well. The SSLM/A were co-located and working closely with both the SSDF and SSDM/A militias, and were involved in the defence of Hejlij in early 2012. According to an eyewitness, who was an SSLM/A prisoner, Khartoum was actively providing food supplies, weapons, vehicles, uniforms, and tents to the militias fighting alongside SAF. After the signing of the September 2012 agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, the SSLM/A forces were primarily used by SAF in their war with the SPLM-N in South Kordofan, which alienated them from their support base in Unity.

In mid-April 2013, SSLM/A troops began to move towards Mayom county as their leaders entered peace talks with the GRSS. With the announcement of a presidential pardon on 24 April, a joint coalition said that over 1,200 SSLM/A troops had moved into Mayom for integration into the SPLA,109 but the Small Arms Survey observed fewer than this number during its visit in May. Bapiny’s brother, Joseph Nguen Monytuel, was appointed governor of Unity state as part of the integration deal.

Updated 6 November 2013