We the Sons and Daughters of Upper Nile Region,
In pursuance of, the wishes and the legitimate aspirations of our people in South Sudan to freedom, independence and statehood;
Aware of, the complexity of the political and military situation in Upper Nile and South Sudan brought about by the splits and shifting political and military alliances that characterized the liberation process since 1983;
Cognizant of, the fact that the unity of the people around clear and achievable political objectives and their resolve to relentlessly fight against the common enemy is the basis for liberation;
Aware that, the exercise of the right to self-determination has become the common wish and aspiration of the people of South Sudan, and that this right can be exercised only in a peaceful atmosphere through an internationally supervised referendum;
Knowing that, the NIF government and all other northern political parties, have all along shown sufficient reluctance to allow the people of South Sudan to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, and that the genuine exercise of this right can take place only when the people of South Sudan are in physical and full control of their territories;
Knowing that, it is through the armed struggle and winning the war of liberation that will ultimately enable the people to gain their freedom and independence; and, that mobilization of the people of Upper Nile and their effective participation in the war of liberation will ultimately help bring about this freedom;
Solemnly do, hereby declare the establishment of The South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) as an interim political structure to oversee and nurse the political and military developments in Upper Nile with the main objective of mobilizing the people of greater Upper Nile Region for their effective participation in the war of liberation.
The SSLM has come as a political necessity to meet the exigencies of the political and military situation in Upper Nile Region without prejudice to the SPLM/A and its role in the liberation process, but to enhance the unity of the people for purpose of the liberation, freedom and independence, until such a time that organic unity of the fighting people can be achieved.
The SSLM and the Upper Nile Military Command Council (UMCC) are complementary forces to the SPLM and the SPLA in the war of liberation and not it's competitors. The SSLM puts behind it the period and the practice of fractionation of the liberation movement and competition for the leadership of the South that has characterized the struggle since 1983.
The conflict between South and North Sudan has its roots in the evolution of the Sudanese state. The parts were administered separately until the reversal of the colonial policy of Southern Sudan in 1946. This policy reversal was dictated by the British post-war interests in the Middle East, rather than by the wish, aspirations, and concerns of the people of South Sudan.
The greed of the northern political elite, their insensitivity to the rights of the South Sudanese people, and the deliberate neglect of South Sudanese opinion in wake of the struggle for independence led to the mutiny in Torit in 1955 that laid the foundation for the seventeen years war (1955 - 1972). This war was ended by the Addis Ababa Agreement in March 1972 between the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) and the May regime of Gaafar Mohammed Nimeri. It is worth mentioning that the political programme of the SSLM was secession and the formation of an independent state in South Sudan.
The Addis Ababa Agreement and the Regional Autonomy it brought to the people of South Sudan had internal weakness, which Nimeri exploited to undermine the democratic process in the Southern Region, until he finally abrogated the agreement in June 1983. The political and military situation in the South started to deteriorate as early as 1974, with the mutiny of Major Agwet. In 1975, the garrison in Akobo mutinied, leading to formation of elements of Anya-nya 2. By 1983, the situation was tense and only needed a spark for it to explode.
This spark was provided by the rebellion in May 1983 of battalions 104 and 105 in Bor, Pibor, and Ayod leading to the formation of the SPLM/A. The formation of the SPLM/A in July 1983, however, was marked by an intense power struggle and contest for the leadership of the infant Movement. That led to a bitter split and fighting with Anya-nya 2. The main contestants then Dr. John Garang de Mabior, Samuel Gai Tut, Akuot Atem de Mayen and William Abdalla Chuol Deng, who all hailed from Upper Nile Region.
Even later, in 1991, the split within the ranks and file of the SPLM/A following the Nasir Declaration, the contest for leadership of the Movement was again between Dr. John Garang, Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Lam Akol and Cdr. William Nyuon Bany, who all hail from Upper Nile Region.
This bitter struggle for power and leadership between the sons of Upper Nile impacted negatively on the war of liberation. Not only was there enormous loss of human lives and other resources, but many of these leaders at one stage or the other veered off from the liberation course. Between 1991 and 1999, there have been shifting alliances in Upper Nile, which benefited the common enemy. It appeared as if the leaders of Upper Nile cared more for temporary personal aggrandizement than the national destiny. As a result the South suffered immensely from such splits engineered by leaders from Upper Nile.
Most of the natural resources over which the conflict with the North has raged since: the vast agricultural lands, water, livestock, and petroleum are found in Upper Nile. Moreover, the people of Upper Nile, without exception, have a large capacity to wage war of liberation. By their participation, they are capable of impeding or accelerating the process of liberation.
For instance in 1983, the split within the nascent Movement occurred in which a majority of the forces from Upper Nile (Anya-nya 2) allied with the enemy (May regime) and because of the intense fighting in eastern Upper Nile, impeded the progress of the war of liberation and much human and material resources was wasted. However, when Anya-nya 2 reconciled and rejoined the SPLM/A in 1988 the process of liberation was accelerated, enabling the SPLM/A to liberate large parts of South Sudan.
Again in 1991, and the fraternal war that ensued, following the Nasir declaration again instigated by leaders from Upper Nile, disrupted, weakened and tilted the balance of forces enabling the enemy to recapture the towns and villages hitherto under the control of the SPLA/A. Not only that, but the bulk of the SPLA forces hailing from Upper Nile Region were detached from the war of liberation. They were either neutralized and went back to their 'lwaks,' migrated to secure areas in the North and the neighbouring countries, or capitulated and directly joined the enemy to fight the SPLA. The SPLA forces in the Nuba Mountains were cut off and their effectiveness drastically reduced.
The Khartoum and Pachodo Peace Agreements struck with the NIF regime in 1997 by SSIM/A and SPLM/A-United respectively have now collapsed and the war of liberation has erupted in full swing in western Upper Nile. This is because the NIF regime not only failed to implement the terms of the Agreement but like Nimeri, the NIF undermined the Agreement and the South Sudan authority setup via that agreement. The NIF regime and SSUM/A-SSIM/A are now locked up in fierce battles in the oil fields in Bentiu.
Against this brief background the military commanders of SSDF and SPLA, who hail from central Upper Nile, held a two days conference in Waat and unanimously resolved, inter alia, the following:
- Formation of a unified military leadership to be known as the Upper Nile Provisional Military Command Council (UMCC) that will be the supreme military authority over all their military forces in Upper Nile.
- That the Khartoum Peace Agreement has been dismantled beyond repairs by the NIF government leaving the military forces in the South with no option but armed struggle to achieve justice and freedom.
- That the UMCC shall be responsible to a Political Body to be formed after adequate consultation among the political cadres of Upper Nile Region. This consultation should take place within reasonable time.
- That SSDF and all its units have de-linked itself from the NIF government as of today, 4th November 1999, and has, therefore, resumed the armed struggle and will work and cooperate with all the political and military forces that are fighting against the NIF regime.
- The UMCC is open to any armed group in Upper Nile that is ready to fight for liberation of South Sudan provided that any such group has completely de-linked itself from the NIF government.
- That, it was imperative to adopt a pro-active and positive role in the war of liberation. This necessitated the formation of a political organization that has roots in the history, and reflect the inner feelings of the people of South Sudan;
- That, there is absolute need to bring peace and reconciliation among the different communities in Upper Nile Region, mobilize and organize them in order to effectively participate in the war of liberation;
- That, the SSLM should have positive engagement with the SPLM/A and all the other political and military groups in South Sudan with the objective of building a national consensus and unity of purpose.
The SSLM declares the following political objectives and shall strive to achieve them in collaboration with other political and military forces in South Sudan that are pursuing an agenda of national liberation.
1. THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION
The fundamental and core objective of the SSLM is to achieve the inalienable right of the people of South Sudan to self-determination. Likewise, the SSLM shall strive for the realization of the right to self-determination of other marginalized peoples in other parts of the Sudan. The unity of the Sudan is not based on the consent of the people but was imposed and maintained by force of arms by the Arab dominated governments in Khartoum.
The SSLM shall struggle relentlessly to achieve this objective through armed struggle or through a negotiated peaceful resolution with the incumbent regime under international mediation as now being carried out by Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The SSLM shall not be satisfied by empty promise and lip service assurance about the right to self-determination, which like the Khartoum and Pachodo Agreements were meant to out maneuver the South and divide its ranks in order to conquer it in the end. Until the northern political elite concretely proves their commitment to the contrary, the SSLM shall remain vigilant and skeptical about the intentions of the northern political elite in their various parties and organizations.
2. UNITY OF PURPOSE
The SSLM is unreservedly committed to the unity of the people of South Sudan as a necessary prerequisite for the success of the liberation struggle. This unity must be predicated on equality, mutual recognition of, and respect for each other's equal rights and values.
The SSLM believes that the people of South Sudan, through their long history for freedom and national liberation and the immense suffering they have experienced as a collectivity at the hands of the Arabs, Turks and Europeans, have sufficiently forged strong bonds of common aspiration, identity and nationhood.
In this regards, the SSLM shall mobilize and rally the people of South Sudan around this noble goal of unity, peaceful coexistence as a matter of priority at the grassroots and political levels, especially given the current onslaught by the NIF regime to divide the people and to defeat their struggle.
This task of building unity should not be left to a few or one region, but should be a national duty of every South Sudanese. The SSLM calls on all other groups, regions and communities to take seriously the need for unity and to handle as a matter of urgency some of the conflicts that tend to threaten our unity and solidarity. When it comes to unity, no problem is big or small. All must be given due priority attention they deserve.
Bearing in mind the above crucial points, the SSLM shall firmly be committed in all its activities to the following:
- Observe and promote reconciliation and peace among all the communities and political forces in South Sudan.
- Discourage any form of South-South violence and hostilities for whatsoever reasons or motivations.
- Advocate and encourage peaceful means of conflict resolution within South Sudan and between its different communities.
- Make efforts to build bridges of friendship, unity, and solidarity between the people of the South and the political movements that will minimize external forces that might conspire to undermine this unity and solidarity.
- Encourage cooperation of all the military forces opposed to the NIF regime.
In order to accommodate the ethnic, cultural and religious diversities in South Sudan and to ensure maximum participation of the people in the running of their affairs, the SSLM shall commit itself to the establishment of a federal system of government in South Sudan.
As the struggle progresses, the SSLM shall build structures of governance based on the 'bottom-up' approach. The experience of the South, even during the times of the Southern Regional Government, calls for this approach as a way of resolving conflicts, problems of power and authority and the distribution of wealth. This is the only way unity, stability, and sustainable development of the South Sudan can be guaranteed.
2. DEMOCRACY, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The SSLM shall create an enabling political environment that promotes the growth of a conscious and vibrant civil society capable of fulfilling its tasks in the building of a democratic and accountable system of governance.
In order to ensure the effective administration of justice and the rule of law, the SSLM shall respect the independence of the judicial institutions and shall establish efficient law enforcement agencies and appropriate penal and corrective institutions. Efforts shall be made with competent organizations to secure opportunities of training for judicial personnel and enforcement officers.
In order to empower the people at grassroots level, the SSLM shall promote participatory democracy in which the holders of public offices are mandated by their constituents through elections at the local and national levels.
The SSLM shall effect complete separation between its organizational structures as a political organization from the structures of the civil administration in the areas under its administration.
The SSLM is committed to the regional and international covenants on human rights and civil liberties.
The SSLM shall commit itself to implement the basic provisions of the Conventions on the Right of the Child. The children have been the most vulnerable victims of the civil war and the local conflicts in South Sudan. In this respect, the SSLM shall take immediate measures towards demobilization of the Child Soldiers and create opportunities for union with their families and their education.
The SSLM recognize the equal status of men and women in the society and their participation in all spheres of social life. In this respect, the SSLM shall:
Promote the full realization of their political, economic and social potentials.
The SSLM shall ensure the participation of women at all levels of its organizational structures. All institutions and organs of SSLM shall be gender sensitive.
1. THE PEACE PROCESS
The SSLM stands for a just and a lasting peace in the Sudan: A peace that recognizes the right of people of South Sudan to self-determination.
The IGAD Declarations of Principles (DoPs) remains the most viable framework for a negotiated peaceful resolution of the conflict. Being a regional initiative, there can be no better forum than IGAD for the resolution of the Sudanese conflict. This is because the countries involved in the mediation process have a stake in the resolution of the conflict. They have been recipients of large numbers of South Sudanese refugees for the last four decades.
The SSLM appreciates the stage so far reached by the IGAD Peace process and encourages the IGAD countries to continue with the efforts until a lasting peace is achieved.
While recognizing that the SPLM has been the chief negotiator for the fighting Sudan, it will now become imperative for the IGAD process to include the viewpoint of other political forces in the South that are equally opposed to the NIF regime and who are also struggling for the destiny of the South. The SSLM, being an opposition force that represents a sizeable portion of the South Sudan population needs to be included in future consultations.
Any sustainable peace must enjoy the support of the different political opinions in South Sudan. This is the only possible guarantee for future stability in the South.
At the micro level of conflicts, the on-going people-to-people reconciliation and peace have the support and blessing of the SSLM. The Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Peace Covenant, the local peace agreements reached recently in central Upper Nile among the Lou Nuer are important milestones in the efforts to bring about reconciliation and peace in South Sudan. The SSLM shall continue to give its support to the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) in its endeavours to bring about reconciliation and peace among the conflicting communities in South Sudan.
The SSLM appreciates the important role played by the donor community in availing resources for the grassroots peace process and encourages them to continue to support the upcoming people-to-people reconciliation and peace conference in east bank of Upper Nile.
2. SECURITY FOR THE PEOPLE
The SSLM is committed to provide security for all the people of Upper Nile including their property and the general well being. In this respect, the SSLM military forces shall do all that is possible to resist the enemy activities against the people.
The SSLM shall create a conducive atmosphere for the voluntary repatriation of the people of Upper Nile from where they have been displaced by war and local conflicts to their homes of origin so that they may recreate their lives in peace and harmony. The SSLM, therefore, shall promote people-to-people peace and reconciliation among the different ethnic groups in Upper Nile.
In order to facilitate the voluntary repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation of those affected by war, the SSLM calls upon the international humanitarian and donor agencies to assist in this process by committing necessary resources and services to Upper Nile Region to consolidate the local peace, stability and development.
3. SOVEREIGNITY OVER THE NATURAL RESOURCES
All the natural resources within the territorial boundaries of South Sudan: water, agricultural lands, minerals, forestry resources, petroleum deposits, wildlife, etc., belong to the people of South Sudan. Their sustainable development and utilization should be to the best interest of the people of South Sudan.
All these natural resources: water, petroleum, minerals, wildlife etc., belong to the people of South Sudan. Their exploitation and development, therefore, should not be permitted especially when that serves the economic and military interest of the government in Khartoum.
The current illegal exploitation of the petroleum resources of the South by the NIF regime and its international partners is a violation of the property rights of the people of South Sudan over their strategic natural wealth. The SSLM shall use all means available within its power to stop this pillage and plunder.
The SSLM would like to inform the international companies now involved with the NIF regime, and have been granted concessions in South Sudan that the SSLM is not bound by these contracts and agreement and shall cancel them without compensation. What has been said of the petroleum resources is equally true and valid for our agricultural land and other resources now being plundered to our disadvantage and the accompanying environmental degradation.
4. SELF-RELIANCE AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY
The SSLM intends to restore in the people their dignity, the spirit of confidence and self-reliance, through encouragement of productive economic activities to offset the dependency syndrome resulting from long period of dependence on relief and humanitarian assistance. The SSLM shall formulate a programme for meeting the food security needs of Upper Nile.
The SSLM views the international humanitarian intervention as a temporary mitigating measure to assist the people in becoming self-reliant and self-sufficient, especially in food production and provision of social services. Sustainable development and utilization of the local resources shall be given priority.
The international humanitarian assistance shall be conceived within the context of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the physical infrastructure: schools, hospitals, clinics, water wells etc., and the provision of drugs, medicines, and school materials, which are not found locally.
The seventeen years of war and destruction completely erased the little economic infrastructure that existed before 1983. The rehabilitation of economic activities and emergence of the local market in Upper Nile, linked to other parts of South Sudan and the international markets is a priority the SSLM will undertake immediately.
The SSLM shall encourage the monetization of the economic and social services that will allow the circulation of the different currencies according to market laws of supply and demand. This will facilitate the movement of people and goods enhancing peace and stability among the communities. At the same time the SSLM shall encourage and promote cross border trade between Upper Nile and western Ethiopia in agricultural products, fisheries, livestock, etc.
5. REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
The SSLM cherishes the lofty ideals of Pan-Africanism. It, therefore, fosters good relations and solidarity with all the African peoples and governments.
The SSLM believes that the future prosperity of Africa lies in African nations working closely towards economic and political integration for sustainable peace, stability, and development. Africa should transform the Organization for African Unity (OAU) into a progressive institution capable of resolving African conflicts.
The SSLM calls upon the African leaders to wake up to the imperatives of globalization and concomitant problems especially in commerce and trade, information and communication technology.
Africa cannot afford to move into the third millennium with parts of it, like South Sudan, under bondage, slavery, and semi-colonial relationships. The SSLM calls upon the African leaders to wake up to this challenge to play a supportive role in the emancipation of the African people in the Sudan.
The conflict between the Arabs and Africans in the Sudan, unless resolved to the mutual satisfaction and recognition of both peoples, will continue to be a major obstacle in the Afro-Arab relations in the coming millennium. The SSLM calls on the African and Arab leaders to face this challenge immediately.
The SSLM appreciates the role of the international community, especially the U.S. and the members of the European Union in helping to relieve the immense suffering and social injustices being inflicted on the people of South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile. The SSLM appeals to these nations and governments to double their support to help bring a quick end to this human suffering.
THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF SSLM
The organizational structure of the South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) is simple and functional. It consists of the Political Consultative Council (PCC) which is the highest legislative organ of the Movement, and the Interim Executive Committee (IEC) which is its executive organ.
The Political Consultative Council comprises the following:
The representatives of the Districts
The representatives of the Military
The representatives of elders and chiefs
The representatives of Women, Youth, the Disabled and Intellectuals
The representatives of the Church and Religious Associations
The representatives of Traders, Artisans, NGOs, and Cooperative Societies
The Interim Executive Committee comprises the following:
The Deputy Chairman
The Secretary for External Relations
The Secretary for Military Affairs
The Secretary for Civil Administration and Legal Affairs
The Secretary for Finance, Commerce and Trade
The Secretary for Information and Publicity
The Secretary for Education and Health Care
The Secretary for Agriculture and natural resources
The Secretary for Women Affairs and Child welfare
The Secretary for Relief, Resettlement and Rehabilitation
The Secretary for Human Rights
The Secretary for Organization and Political Mobilization