By Manyang Mayom
Dec 25, 2005 — In 1983 the Civil War begins in earnest when forces under Kurbino Kwanyin attack government forces on 16 May. The following month forces under William Nyon Bany attack at Ayod. In Ethiopia the SPLA is founded under John Garang and his deputy, Salva Kiir. It is said that Garang, being a colonel and having the highest rank in the Sudanese People’s Armed Forces (SPAF), was named leader. Kerubino Kwanyin was second in rank because he was the first to oppose SPAF forces. He was a major in the SPAF and senior in rank to William Nyon Bany and Salva Kiir.
Another important figure was Ngachigak Ngachiluk, an Alternate Member of the Political and Military High Command who was killed in attack on Kapoeta, January 1988.
The SPLA’s initial military organization — the Permenant Political Military Office — comprised five senior commanders, viz., John Garang, KurbinoKwanyn, William Nyon Bany, Salva Kiir, and Arok Thon Arok. They were considered at first to be under the control of the SPLM, the civilian rebel movement, led by Joseph Oduhu and Martin Majer.
Originally, Oduhu was considered the senior member of the SPLM/SPLA because of his age and experience. The SPLM was, however, quickly subsumed by John Garang and the use of SPLM/SPLA had no real meaning as the SPLA directed all political and military operations.
In July 1986, after Lam Akol fled the north, the SPLA added four senior military commanders to those that existed. Lam Akol in Northern Upper Nile and Southern Kordofan, Lt. Colonel Yousif Kuwa Mekki, a Nuba tribal, for Southern Kordofan and the Nuba Hills, and Lt. Colonel Daniel Awet Akot, who had been responsible for much of successful SPLA activity in and around Renk.
By March 1993 the SPLA had split into four "factions" opposing John Garang:
- (1) The William Nyon Bany/Joseph Oduhu
- (2) The Riak Machar/Lam Akol (Nasir Group)
- (3) Kurbino Kwanyn/other military (Bahr el-Ghazal Group)
- (4) Arok Thon Arok. (Bor Citizens Group)
The factions initially formed the so-called "Unity" group of the SPLA, but they soon fell apart.
Riak Machar and Lam Akol split, to form ’SPLA-United’ led by Lam Akol, and ’Southern Sudan Independence Movement’ (SSIM) led by Riak Machar.
Joseph Oduhu was killed in southern Sudan during an attack by the SPLA on SSIM positions, while a meeting between Riak Machar and Joseph Oduhu is taking place.
William Nyon Bany shifted his allegiance between SSIM, the government and the SPLA. He was killed, in an attack on his positions, by SSIM forces on January 13, 1996.
Riak Machar, Kurbino Kwanyn and Arok Thon Arok signed a ’Political Charter’ with the Government of Sudan in Khartoum in April 1996. Both Riak Machar and Kurbino said their forces are now fighting along government forces against the SPLA.
ABU JOHN, Samuel: Zande from Western Equatoria (Tambura?). The first southerner to graduate from Sudan’s military academy (1954). Former Anyanya? In the 1990s active SPLA member in Maridi and Yambio.
ACHOL: SPLA doctor; (only doctor in Kapoeta in 4/1989). Born 1951. Trained in Juba, Egypt; worked in Arab nations and Rumania. Joined SPLA in Addis Ababa in 1985. (His medical assistant Dr. Dau.)
Agassio AKOL Tong: Colonel; Chief of Staff of "1st Axis Command", 4/1987 in Pibor region. At war with Koni’s militia.
Dr. Lam AKOL Ajawin: An engineer and lecturer at Khartoum University. Lam was said to be a secret SPLA contact long before he fled to the south (in late 1985). Head of delegation to Nairobi peace talks, 11-12/1989; also accompanying, Dr. Mansour Khalid, Alt. Cdr. Elijah Maluk, Alt. Commander Patrick Ayiteng, "Captain" John Luk; Dr. Marial Benjamin; Captain Daniel Kodi; Captain Muhammad Said Bazarah; 1st Lts., Joseph Akuot Wet, Yasir Said Arman and Zamba Duku. SSIM founder. After leaving SPLA moved to Nairobi. Dismissed as Secy, External Affairs, SSIM, 2/1994. Now Commander-in-Chief of ’SPLA-United’ operating in Upper Nile.
Joseph AKWON: From Anuak tribe, born at Pachala and beginning in 1970 the leader of Upper Nile forces during the first civil war. Killed near Malakal in early 1972, he was then second in command to Joseph Lagu. He was responsible for cementing the Israeli-Anyana relationship through which the rebels were provided Uzis, AKs, and other material. Helped set up training camps in Sudan which were assisted by Israel. In a sense laid the foundation for the Ethiopian training camps used by SPLA during the second civil war. Akwon was a separatist, and it is likely the Addis accord of 1972 would not have been signed had he been alive. Akwon’s forces were first to revolt against Numayri, forming what became Anyanya II. When the SPLA was able to split the Anyanya II, it was reported (Africa Confidential, 17 Nov 89) that "Israel extended support to the SPLA."
Oyai DENG AJAK: Commander, Fashoda Batallion; responsible for shooting down civilian airliner near Malakal, 8/1986.
Deng ALOR Kuol: Major; Often acts as SPLA spokesman. With John Garang flown on 30 Oct 89 from Nairobi to Addis Ababa on Tiny Rowland’s Gulfstream. 12/1989 met with former interior minister Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi in Addis; 1/1990 called Alternate Commander and was located in Addis Ababa. Attended NDA organizational meeting in Addis, 3/1990. Wife Ethiopian. Reported arrested in Addis Ababa, 6/1991. In March 1994 was named SPLA Council member and responsible for the state’s affairs portfolio. Attended Nairobi peace talks, 8/1994.
Pagan AMUM OKICH: Shilluk from Malakal; law student (1982) who organized a group of dissidents in 1982 and led them to Ethiopia. Joined the SPLA in 1983. Served in various tasks, Military Administrator and Civilian Administrator in Malakal, Bahr al- Ghazal and Melut. Appointed Civilian Administrator of Kapoeta in 1991. Spent two years in early 1980s "training" in Cuba. Speaks fluent Spanish. called SPLA Spokesman, 8/1994.
Akuot ATEM: With Samuel Gai Tut an early founder of Anyanya II. He was killed in August 1984 by units commanded by Lt. Col. William Abdallah (note RCC section).
Arok Thon AROK: SPAF major and SPLA commander since founding of SPLA in 1983. Arok is said to be a relative of John Garang (MEI, 5 March 93). SPAF intelligence officer of the 13th brigade in Upper Nile. A member of the SPLM/SPLA Political-Military High Command, he was senior in rank to Kerubino, William Nyuon and Salva Kiir, but was the last of the five SPLA commanders to join the rebel movement. He was four years member of the SPLA Political-Military High Command and Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration and Logistics. Member of delegation who visited Libya in 1984 to obtain arms. He was reported to have negotiated secretly with SPAF General Burma Nasir during a trip to Britain in 1988; Arok’s wife died in the latter part of 1987, and he was in England to place his children in school. When Garang found about the meeting Arok was expelled from the SPLA. Arok was close to Kurbino Kwanyn. William Nyon Bany was responsible for releasing Kurbino and Arok when he split with Garang. He went to Uganda where he was placed under house arrest by Museveni, and then was released in February 1993. He signed the ’Political Charter’ with Khartoum in April 1996, and now lives in Khartoum.
Daniel AWET AKOT: Alternative Member of the SPLM/SPLA Political-Military High Command and (as early as 1987) the zonal commander for Northern Bahr al-Ghazal.
Mukii BATALLI: Radio SPLA representative, 1989.
Garang BEK: RCC called him Lt. Colonel; RCC claimed was killed near Rumbek, along with Capt Atok Riak, and Lt. Barak Majak, 11/1989.
Barrabas BENJAMIN: Member, SPLA Central Committe, Head of Foreign Affairs Committee and SPLA Special Representative in southern Africa (1988- ). Often seen in Zimbabwe and Chad.
Benjamin BOL: Early SPLA leader and SPLA member in London who met with U.S. types in mid-1984. Was reported in the Guardian, 27 February 27, 1993, that he reported that Bob Fraser of the U.S. Embassy introduced multimillionaire Roland "Tiny" Rowland to John Garang, after which Rowland became a member of the SPLA. Died in August 1984 in Ethiopian custody. According to confidential source was apparently in the pay of both Libya and the North, and Ethiopia found out.
William Didi BONIO: 1st Lt. Chief, Fertit, along with Chemi al-SHAN joined SPLA in 1988. Led Fertit who took Deim Zubair, 11/1990.
Daniel CHOL Riak: Noted SPLA commander of the Leer/Adok region (11/1988) and later (1989) of northern Bahr al-Ghazal. Very favorably disposed to international aid agencies.
Nhial DENG NHIAL: SPLA spokesman in Addis Ababa (1989). SPLA spokesman, 1993.
Wilson DENG: SPLA captain; led final attack on Torit, 4/1989.
Lual Ding WOL: Commander; Located at Addis Ababa, 2/1990; worked with Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi to set up NDA.
Thomas DUT: Ostensibly an SPLA colonel who defected to government in Malakal, 1/1994.
Samuel GAI TUT: Founder of Anyanya II. Emerged as significant force in June 1982. With Khoang, arrested in June 1982 for gun-running. Killed in firefight with SPLA in April 1984.
James GARANG: SPLA member, Nairobi peace talks, 8/1994.
John GARANG de Mabior: Dinka, born June 23, 1945 at Wagkulei village, Upper Nile. Father died at age 9, mother at age 11. Attended high school in Tanzania where one classmate was Uganda’s President Museveni. U.S. educated (B.Sci., Grinnel, 1971), after which he became adjutant to General Joseph Lagu of the Anyanya. Following Addis Ababa agreement entered SPAF in 1972 as captain. (Ph.D., 1977-1981, Iowa State); military training at Fort Benning, 1974. His wife has high school equivalency from USA; three sons, one born in USA, oldest son is now about 15 years old; At the start of the civil war Garang was an active duty Colonel. In 1982 he had begun teaching at Khartoum University. and military war schools. In May 1983 was sent by President Numayri to Bor to put down revolt. Took charge of the SPLA in 1983. Held position through 1993, in the context of the ’New Sudan’ declared by the SPLM’s first conference held in March 1994, in which the SPLA Council will administer ’the liberated areas.’ Garang kept the defense portfolio for himself in addition to the chairmanship of the council.
Yacoub ISMAEL: In 1984 joined SPLA along with a ’small force of professional troops’. From Western Sudan.
Yusuf Kowah MEKKI: SPLA commander of the New Cush brigade (1989-) ethnic Nuba and Muslim. Commander of forces that managed to control much of southern Kordofan by late 1989. Director of SPLA Convention Organizing Committee, 9/1993. In March 1994 named SPLA Council member for Kordufan affairs. In July 1994 called number 3 man in heirarchy of SPLA Executive Council. Signed general agreement with DUP’s Dr. Ahmad al-Sayyid Hamid in Cairo, 7/1994. Attended Nairobi Peace Talks, 8/1994.
Kerubino Kwanyn Bol: former Anyanya, and then Lt. Colonel in the SPAF and a commander in the 13th Brigade in Upper Nile. His Arab superiors felt he had a weak education, and that Garang was much more talented. One of first SPLA leaders. Commander of Batallion 105 at Pibor in March 1983 and led mutiny at Bor, Pibor and Pochala. Second in command of SPLA, but broken with Garang, with subsequent armed clashes, in September-October 1986. Arrested by Garang, he was detained until 1991 when released by William Nyon. He fled to Uganda and was placed under house arrest by Museveni until 2/1993, when he was released. Led 2,000 soldiers in an attack that leveled Mayen Abun, 5 July 94; RCC’s Angelo Beda announced he had joined government, 18 July 94. Together with Riak Machar, he signed the ’Political Charter’ with the Sudan government in April 1996.
Dr. Mansour KHALID; is the Vice-chairman of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Former Foreign Minister of Sudan, he was one of the first northerners to join the SPLA. A long-time political advisor to the SPLA. He is the author of ’Numayri and the Revolution of Dis-May’ (1985) and ’the Government They Deserve’ (1990) and other books in both English and Arabic languages.
Salva Kiir Mayardit: Dinka from Bahr al-Ghazal and follower of John Garang practically from the inception of the Civil War. Believed related to Kenyano Kiir, SRRA rep, and teacher at Akon, Bahr al-Ghazal. Following March 1994 SPLA meeting after which a Council will administer ’the liberated areas.’ Garang was named Chairman of the council and Commander Salva Kiir, his deputy, got the foreign and interior portfolios. Led delegation to Nairobi Peace Talks, 8/1994. Richard Mulla represented Riak.
Gordon Koang (Kong) CHOL: Lt. Colonel and commissioner of Jonglei province, arrested on gun-running in June 1982. Early Anyanya II leader, who with William DENG, went over to Numayri in October 1984. In late 1987, Koang and most of the Anyanya II leadership went over to the SPLA. SPLA commander who captured Nasir 1/1989.
John KULONG : Nuer, putative Duputy Chief and "Colonel", of SPLA/UNITED (SSIM), who surfaced in Khartoum in 7/1994.
LINO Abyei, Edward: Born Abyei. SPLA administrator, 6/1989. Called Captain, 9/1989. Visited Europe and USA with Garang, 9/1989.
John LUK: SPLA Representative in London ...1985... Later joined SSIM. As commander, arrested by Riak Machar, 6/1994.
Kuol Manyang Jok: Born in Bor, 1946. Attended teacher training school in Khartoum and taught school at Wad Medani and Wau. Had some training in West (FRG) Germany in mid-1970s. Secondary school teacher at Wau, until moving to Juba in 1977 and teaching at the University of Juba. He joined the SPLA in 1983. SPLA commander first in the Kapoeta area, then in the Juba Area (1989). His troops took Torit in 1989; Regional Commander at Torit 4-5/1991 - ?. It was stated in 1991 that Kuol ranked about 7th in the SPLA heirarchy after Garang, William Nyon, Salva Kiir, Riak Machaar, Lam Akol and Dr. Riak MACHAR Teny ?.
Dr Riak MACHAR Teny: A Nuer, said to have Dinka blood. Born at Leer in 1953. 26th son of the chief of both Ayod and Leer. Presbyterian. Attended Khartoum University. Received Doctorate from University of Bedford, England in 1984. Early SPLA leader, whose family was located in Britain; For years the Zonal Commander for Western Upper Nile; Led forces that attacked and overran Melut in 1989. Visited family 9/1989, for first time since war started; In 1990 based at Leer. Later SPLA Regional Commander for a region from the Ethiopian border to Renk and to Ayod/Waat in the south. He was residing at Ketbek, 5 km. from Nasir (4/1991); with him then was Gordon Koang Chol, who was local commander. Attended Conference of Minorities in the Arab World, Cyprus, 5/1994. Sighned the ’Political Charter’ with the Sudan government in April 1996.
Martin MAJER Gai; Dinka from Bor region. Attended Rumbek Secondary; Graduated Khartoum University in Law, 1967. Deputy Speaker of Southern Assemby; joined southern rebel movement in July 1983. He reportedly was jailed by Garang in 1985 when he supported southern separation from the Sudan. Freed from captivity by William Nyon in 1992. In January 1993 it was reported that Majer had met with Arok Thon Arok and KurbinoKuanyin. Lam Akol stated later in January he, along with commanders Martin Makur Aleyu from Rumbek, Kawaj Makuei from Aweil and Wal Athieu (who reportedly did not join the Nasir faction), formerly in charge of Yei front, had joined the William Nyon faction. Reportedly killed by SPLA soldiers, 7/1994.
Elijah MALoK Aleng: SRRA which become now as SRRC official 1989-1992. Replaced by Justin YAK, 1/1993.
Martin MANYIEL Ayuwal: SPLA Lt. Colonel, commander of the Narus base, 8/1986. Alternate member of SPLA Political-Military High Command, 3/1990; Met with NDA leaders in organizational meeting, Addis, 3/1990.
Dau Manyok: SPLA Alternate Commander responsible for occupation of Kajo Kaji in 2/1990.
Obutu Namur METTE: Cdr, SPLA Commander, Torit region 7/1992.
Richard MULA: Secretary General of the SRRA (1988-1989...) Member SPLM delegation to Nairobi Peace Talks, 8/1994.
Paulino Katip NHIAL: SPLA commander, forces south of Kadugli, South Kordofan, 1992.
Peter NyOT Kook; Represented SPLA at inconclusive 8/1994 IGADD peace meetings. Riek group represented by Dhol ACHUIT and Peter SWAN.
William NYON BANY: See above. Born in Ayot, he is older than Garang. Began as an NCO in the Anyanya I. SPLA Chief of Staff; Headed New Funj Batallion in attack on Kurmuk, 10-11/1989. A statement issued by SSIM said it had killed Commander William Nyon who rejoined the mainstream SPLA. It said its forces stormed Nyuon’s hideout at Gul in the south on Saturday January 13 and killed him, and other SPLA soldiers, in a 15-minute attack. Nyuon defected from the SPLA in 1991 and was accused of fighting with the government army before he was readmitted to the mainstream SPLA in 1995.
Joseph Oduhu: Southern politician and founder of SPLM. A former regional minister for Southern Sudan. In the 1960s combined with Father Saturnino, Jaden (a Bari), William Deng and Clement Mboro to lead southern political in Khartoum. Head of Political and Foreign Affairs Committee of the SPLA/SPLM, 1984.... His son Casito Omiluk Oduhu, was the SRRA representative (11/1988) for Leer and Adok. Killed during an attack by the SPLA on SSIM positions in 1994?
Pierre OHURE: Lutuko, first Secretary General of the SRRA, 1985-...
Roland ’Tiny’ ROWLAND: British multimillionaire, LONHRO chief, admitted member of the SPLM since 1984 (admitted in February 1993). Provided planes and assistance to Garang. Said to have been introduced to Garang by US diplomat Robert Frazure (later head of US mission in Ethiopia). Rowland is close to Kenya’s president Arap Moi and has substantial holdings in Nairobi.
Moses VIWE: Commander of Abu Shawk battalion and Nuba Mountain Task Force. Launched surprise attack on Malakal, December 1986.
James WANI IGGA; Long time SPLA commander for Central Equatoria; 1986?-1/1990... Warned townspeople that SPLA would begin shelling SPAF garrisons, including Juba, 1/1990.
Laurence WoL Wol: named SPLA Education Affairs Minister following March 1994 SPLA gathering. Daniel KODI Named Minister for environment and tourism affairs, and Arthur QUEEN Minister for human affairs, and Dr. Peter NYOT Minister of legal affairs. SPLA Rep, Nairobi peace conference, 8/1994.
Modi Wurnyang; A Latuka, and former Anyanya I commander, reportedly transferred by SPLA to Southern Kordofan in 1989 during an SPLA effort to reduce tribalism in the rebel ranks.
Justin YAK: Dr., and SPLA captain who with Lam AKOL, and a captain YOR was a member of the SPLA Peace Delegation that was to meet with the government on 4 July 1989. Following SPLA general meeting in March 1994 was named SPLA minister for health portfolio. SPLA Rep, Nairobi peace conference, 8/1994.