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Anya Nya

In August 1955, five months before independence, southern troops of the Equatoria Corps, together with police, mutinied in Torit and other towns. The mutinies were suppressed although some of the rebels were able to escape to rural areas. There they formed guerrilla bands but, being poorly armed and organized, presented no extensive threat to security. The policy of the Abboud Regime and its attitude towards the south led many southerners, especially students, politicians, administrators and ex-MPs afraid of being arrested, to flee the country in 1960. Those who fled the country started to organize themselves. In 1962 they created in Leopoldville, Congo, the Sudan African Closed Districts National Union (SACDNU). In 1963 the name was changed to the Sudan African National Union (SANU). Its headquarters were in Kampala, Uganda. From then on SANU began to seek and organize support inside and outside the Sudan.

Meanwhile, the various groups of former soldiers and policemen who had been living in the bush since the 1955 mutiny continued to attack army and police posts from time to time, but they lacked organization and leadership. The emergence of a secessionist movement in the south led to the formation in 1963 of the Anya Nya guerrilla army, composed of remnants of the 1955 mutineers and recruits among southern students. Anya Nya became the armed wing of SANU. Active at first only in Al Istiwai, Anya Nya carried its rebellion to all three southern provinces between 1963 and 1969.

In 1965 the Azania Liberation Front (ALF) was formed. In 1966 there were further conflicts and divisions within ALF. In August 1967 a large meeting of southern political leaders outside the Sudan was held in secret in Angudri near the Congo (Zaire) border. At this time it was decided to dissolve all political groups and organization and establish the Southern Sudan Provisional Government (SSPG). Aggrey Jaden was appointed president, and a political bureau of fifteen members was formed. Later the Nile Provisional Government (NPG) was formed, and in 1969 General Taffeng declared his opposition to the (NPG) and formed the Anyidi State Government.

In July 1970 Colonel Joseph Lagu, Eastern Commander of the Anya Nya forces, revolted against Taffeng and declared the formation of the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM). Lagu united the ethnically fragmented guerrilla bands in support of the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement SSLM. Anya Nya leaders united behind him, and nearly all exiled southern politicians supported the SSLM. Although the SSLM created a governing infrastructure throughout many areas of southern Sudan, real power remained with Anya Nya, with Lagu at its head. The Anya Nya rebellion suffered from military fragmentation and the conflicting ambitions of rival politicians; the movement could negotiate effectively with the central government only after Col. Lagu forcibly united the factions.

However, the same divisive forces which had led to the discontinuance of the previous political organizations and provisional governments soon appeared: tribalism, personal rivalries and disagreements over the distribution of foreign assistance and aid. The southern politicians outside the Sudan had lost contact with the real issues involved in the North-South Conflict. Some of them had no keen interests in the Anya Nya and have even worked for the disunity of the Anya Nya to serve their own interests. Sheer personal ambition led to power struggles resulting in internal divisions, thereby creating a meaningless government purporting to represent the southern Sudanese. Incompetence and lack of political foresight are common among them. All these factions suffer from the lack of serious intention to serve the people they claim to lead, and egoistic pursuits occupy much of their time.

Israel trained Anya Nya recruits and shipped weapons via Ethiopia and Uganda to the rebels. Anya Nya also purchased arms from Congolese rebels and international arms dealers with monies collected in the south and from among southern Sudanese exile communities in the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America. The rebels also captured arms, equipment, and supplies from government troops. Militarily, Anya Nya controlled much of the southern countryside while government forces occupied the region's major towns. The guerrillas operated at will from remote camps. However, rebel units were too small and scattered to be highly effective in any single area. Estimates of Anya Nya personnel strength ranged from 5,000 to 10,000.

By October 1971, Khartoum had established contact with the SSLM. After considerable consultation, a conference between SSLM and Sudanese government delegations convened at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 1972. The war ended in March 1972 with an agreement between Nimeiri and Lagu that conceded to the south a single regional government with defined powers. The Addis Ababa accords provided that Southerners, including qualified Anya Nya veterans, would be incorporated into a 12,000-man southern command of the Sudanese army under equal numbers of northern and southern officers.

In 1975 one Anya-Nya unit at Akobo in Jonglei province mutinied and killed its commander, Colonel Abel Choi, when told to leave for Malakal, now the capital of Upper Nile Region. Later that year another Anya-Nya company stationed near Wau, left its quarters for the bush under captain Agwee after being told that it was being transferred to Kapoeta. When the soldiers were being persuaded to return to barracks their former commander in the bush, Col. Emmanuel Abur Nhial, and the other officers who accompanied him, were killed.

These mutinies came as a result of misunderstanding about the military set-up in the South as provided for in the peace arrangements. Accordingly, 6,000 Southern troops with a similar number from the North would form the Southern command initially for five years. If there were any need for extension, it could be done with the consent of all concerned. But then there was already peace and therefore the former guerrillas — now integrated in the national army — could not understand why such a ' large Northern military presence was being maintained in the South. Southern leaders did not help matters by failing to explain the accord to their illiterate charges.

Anya Nya II

Under the terms of the 1972 peace settlement, most of the Anya Nya fighters were absorbed into the national army, although a number of units unhappy with the agreement defected and went into the bush or took refuge in Ethiopia. Angry over Sudan's support for Eritrean dissidents, Ethiopia began to provide help to Sudan's independent rebel bands. The rebel forces gathered more recruits among the Dinka and Nuer people, the largest groups in the south, and eventually adopted the name of Anya Nya II, which had been operating in the area since the early 1970s.

Those original Anya Nya who had been absorbed into the army after the 1972 peace accord were called upon to keep the guerrillas in check and at first fought vigorously on behalf of the national government. But when in 1983 Nimeiri adopted policies of redividing the south and imposing Islamic law, the loyalty of southern soldiers began to waver. Uncertain of their dependability, Nimeiri introduced more northern troops into the south and attempted to transfer the ex-guerrillas to the north. In February 1983, army units in Bor, Pibor Post, and Pochala mutinied. Desertions and mutinies in other southern garrisons soon followed.

In mid-1983 some representatives of Anya Nya II and of the mutinous army units meeting in Ethiopia formed the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). John Garang, a Dinka Sudanese, was named its commander and also head of the political wing, the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). The southern forces in rebellion failed to achieve full unity under Garang. In Garang’s words, the SPLA waged a “bitter struggle” from June to November 1983 before the “correct direction prevailed” and the SPLA killed or won over the Anya Nya II “separatist reactionaries, and opportunists”. In this struggle for power, the dissident units composed of elements of Anya Nya II were routed by Garang's forces. The defeated remnants, still calling themselves Anya Nya II, began to cooperate with the national army against the SPLA. The remaining Anya Nya II received arms and funds from the government; a low cost way to harass the SPLA.

The Anya Nya II group, formed among southern mutineers from the army (after first splitting off from the rebel movement and obtaining weapons and training from the SPAF), was a major factor in the war between 1984 and 1987. Predominantly from the Nuer, the second largest ethnic group in the south, Anya Nya II fought in rural areas of Aali an Nil on behalf of the government. Anya Nya II emerged as a significant factor in the war in that province, disrupting SPLA operations and interfering with the movement of SPLA recruits to the Ethiopian border area for training. Anya Nya II units were structured with military ranks and were based near various army garrisons. The government assisted the group in establishing a headquarters in Khartoum as part of regime efforts to promote Anya Nya II as an alternative southern political movement in opposition to the SPLA.

Eventually, however, SPLA military success led to a decline in morale within Anya Nya II and induced major units, along with their commanders, to defect to the SPLA beginning in late 1987. After prolonged negotiations, the SPLM appointed the most effective Anya Nya II commander, Gordon Kong Chuol, to the SPLM/SPLS high command in January 1988. By mid-1989, only one Anya Nya II faction in Upper Nile remained loyal to the government; it continued its close relations with the government after the Bashir coup and retained its political base in Khartoum.

Those Anya Nya II members who joined the SPLA felt that their immediate interests in the comprehensive ideology had been the special needs of the South, recognition of their African heritage, and the establishment of a federal system of rule.

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Page last modified: 06-01-2014 19:20:00 ZULU