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South Sudan Opposition Alliance

The South Sudan Opposition Alliance is a coalition of political parties and armed groups in South Sudan that opposed the government of President Salva Kiir. It was formed in February 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by nine groups..[1][2] In September the alliance acceded to a revised peace deal with the government that also included the main rebel faction, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, but some of the member groups disagreed with the decision and split from the alliance. The pro-deal SSOA experienced another split in December, and there are currently two organizations using the SSOA name.

South Sudan Opposition Alliance
Participant in the South Sudanese Civil War
South Sudan Opposition Alliance.jpg
ActiveFebruary 16, 2018 - present
LeadersGabriel Changson Chang
Lam Akol
Peter Gadet
HeadquartersKhartoum, Sudan
AlliesSouth Sudan South Sudanese government (from September 2018)
South Sudan SPLM/A-IO (sometimes)
Opponent(s)South Sudan South Sudanese government (until September 2018)
South Sudan SPLM/A-IO (sometimes)


The original nine groups consisted of:

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Former Detainees faction (SPML-FD), led by Pagan Amum, was also listed as a member in the SSOA's charter, but subsequent media reports suggested that it was not included in the coalition. South Sudan United Front/Army, led by Paul Malong Awan, declared its intention to join the SSOA in April, but this does not seem to have occurred.[4]

In its foundational statement, the SSOA promised to "accelerate efforts to restore just and durable peace, democracy and to preserve human rights and the fundamental democratic rights of our people."[1] The group condemned the "ethnic chauvinism, despotic oppression, and institutionalized corruption" plaguing the country and called for the institution of federalism. It criticized previous peace agreements for focusing too much on satisfying warring factions and not enough on long-lasting conflict resolution; it also blamed the collapse of these agreements largely on the government.[3]


In 2017, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) began sponsoring an attempt to revise and resurrect the failed 2015 peace deal. This was followed by the formation of several new political groups and militias hoping to claim a place at the negotiating table.[5] From June to August 2018, Sudanese-sponsored talks resulted in President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar signing several interim agreements meant to lead up to a conclusive deal. The SPLM-FD and the SSOA also participated in these talks, but were said to be marginalized.

First splitEdit

As negotiations were drawing to a close, parts of the SSOA expressed continued dissatisfaction with the terms. Cirilo, leader of the NAS, demanded the full introduction of federalism and accused and Uganda of being more concerned with preserving their material interests in South Sudan than achieving lasting peace.[6] His supporters further alleged that Machar was only concerned with the interests of his own Nuer people.[7]

On September 12, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed by the government, Riek Machar's SPLM-IO, Pagan Amum's SPLM-FD, and the SSOA faction led by Changson.[5][8]

SSOA groups that accepted the deal included:

  • Changson's FDP/SSAF
  • Akol's NDM
  • Bakosoro's SSNMC
  • Garang's SSPM/A
  • Montuil's SSLM/A
The logo of the SSNDA, which split from the SSOA in August/September 2018.
  • Gadet's SSUM/A
  • a breakaway faction of the PDM led by Josephine Lagu (which later renamed to the People's Democratic Movement for Peace[9])
  • a breakaway faction of the NAS led by Khalid Butros Bora[10]

SSOA groups that rejected the deal included:

  • Cirilo's NAS
  • Dario's PDM
  • Thich's UDRA
  • a breakaway faction of the NDM led by Emmanuel Aban
  • a breakaway faction of the SSNMC led by Vakindi L. Undu

These breakaway groups later renamed themselves the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance.[11] The NDA, led by Cirilo and dominated by his NAS, is the largest rebel group outside of Machar's SPLM-IO.[5]

Second splitEdit

On November 30, the SSOA held leadership elections. Peter Gadet of the SSUM/A won. Changson dismissed the elections, saying that Gadet was unfit to lead because he had been "indicted by the international community", referring to a 2014 European Union sanction against Gadet after the 2014 Bentiu massacre.[12] Lam Akol of the NDM sided with Gadet and later accused the South Sudanese government of provoking a split to weaken the remaining opposition.[13] Another member of the NDM accused Changson of buying support from the other party leaders with money sent from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development that was meant to be shared equally among the parties.[14] Media reported that the dispute may revolve around who will secure the vice presidential position allotted to the SSOA in the peace deal; Changson denied these rumors.[15]

The SSOA groups that supported Changson's leadership included:

  • Changson's FDP/SSAF
  • Butros's NAS
  • Lagu's PDM-P
  • Bakosoro's SSNMC
  • Garang's SSPM/A
  • Montuil's SSLM/A

The SSOA groups that supported Gadet's leadership included:

  • Gadet's SSUM/A
  • Akol's NDM
  • a breakaway faction of the FDP/SSAF led by Thomas Peter Okac
  • a breakaway faction of the NAS led by Henry Oyay
  • a breakaway faction of the PDM-P led by Anas Richard Zanga
  • a breakaway faction of the SSNMC led by Thomas Ali Bilal
  • a breakaway faction of the SSLM/A led by Jacob Nyier Gatkuoth[16]

Current statusEdit

Gadet died on April 15, 2019.[17] Reportedly, many of his subordinates in the SSUM had by then defected back to the Kiir government.[18] It is unclear who will succeed him as leader of his faction of the SSOA.

Later that month, the spokesman for Akol's NDM (part of the faction led by Gadet until his death) joined many opposition leaders in calling for an extension of the "pre-transitional" period of the R-ARCSS, saying key parts of the agreement (such as the unification of the army and the finalizing of state boundaries) have yet to be implemented.[19]


  1. ^ a b "Nine South Sudanese opposition parties form alliance". Sudan Tribune. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  2. ^ "South Sudan Opposition Alliance facing Splits over Leadership Wrangle". Nyamilepedia. 2 December 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "The Charter of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA)". Gurtong. 9 April 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Clarity on Malong's SSUF status also crucial for peace and accountability". Sudan Tribune. 14 May 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Salvaging South Sudan's Fragile Peace Deal". International Crisis Group. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  6. ^ Oduha, Joseph (4 September 2018). "Jitters as South Sudan rebel Thomas Cirilo visits US". The East African. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  7. ^ "SPLM-IO rebukes calls for Equatorians to join Bakasoro & Cirilo". Sudan Tribune. 3 August 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  8. ^ "South Sudan opposition holdout groups pick Swaka as new leader". Sudan Tribune. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Josephine Lagu establishes new splinter group supporting S. Sudan peace deal". Sudan Tribune. 28 September 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  10. ^ "South Sudan opposition groups suspends outcome of Gen. Peter Gatdet's election as SSOA Chairman". Nyamilepedia. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  11. ^ "SSOA-TC changes its name to South Sudan National Democratic Alliance". Sudan Tribune. 23 November 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  12. ^ "EU Sanctions South Sudan Militia Leader, Army Commander". 11 July 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  13. ^ "NDM says "dismayed" over government role in dividing SSOA". Nyamilepedia. 4 February 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  14. ^ "De facto SSOA Chairman accused of keeping away money meant for delegates". Nyamilepedia. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Changson-led SSOA denies vice-president position caused ongoing infighting". Nyamilepedia. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  16. ^ "South Sudan SSOA faction resists calls to suspend Peter Gatdet's election". Sudan Tribune. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  17. ^ "South Sudan's Peter Gatdet dies in Khartoum". Sudan Tribune. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  18. ^ "South Sudan warlord Gen Peter Gadet dies in Khartoum". edge. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  19. ^ "South Sudan's NDM joins calls to extend pre-transitional period". Sudan Tribune. 28 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.