Lou Nuer announce split from SPLM-IO
In a damning statement published yesterday, a number of influential figures from the Lou Nuer community have announced their split from Vice-President Dr Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO.
Citing a number of historic grievances, the signatories have declared that whilst they are not opposed to the peace process, they will no longer negotiate as members of the SPLM-IO.
The Lou Nuer have been an integral part of Dr. Riek’s forces since 2013, constituting a significant portion of the White Armies in which Lou Nuer kuaar burnam serve as ranked officers.
Despite this, the letter alleges that Dr. Riek has ‘used [the] Lou Nuer community as his human shield…but dumps them after achieving his objective’. Recalling their losses in the armies of South Sudan since 1991, the signatories claim that the Lou Nuer were left out in the integration of forces from 2002-5.
‘Underrepresentation of Lou Nuer at state and national levels and also in military structures, for example the sidelining of the Chief of Staff and IGP’ are also cited as points of particular contention, referring especially to the ‘sidelining’ of SPLA-IO Chief of Staff Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual.
‘Over the last eight years, Dr. Riek has been verbally promoting White Army from Lou Nuer to various military ranks while security instructing his security chiefs who are also his cousins not to allow them to wear their ranks…He is just using Lou Nuer White Army to fight his wars and later abandons them’, notes the statement.
The letter also gives a number of specific examples in which they claim Machar has actively hindered the peace process. In particular, the signatories assert that the SPLM-IO’s poor administration in Maiwut, Nasir and Panyijar has caused deaths. They also argue that Machar has prevented the Lou Nuer from cohesion with their tribal neighbours.
'He also doesn’t like [the] Lou Nuer community to live in a peaceful co-existence with our brothers in Gawaar, Jikany, Dinka Ngok of Bailiet, Dinka of Duk, Dinka of Atar, Anyuak and Murle’, they add.
The letter ends with the suggestion that those Luo Nuer who fought with the SPLM-IO from 2013 have also been abandoned, as all key positions were awarded to Machar’s close relatives.
Such is described as ‘our sad realities, suffering humiliation [and] exploitation within the SPLM-IO’.
Despite the strong rhetoric, the Lou Nuer community advises all Lou Nuer currently serving in the SPLM-IO, White Army, as politicians and chiefs and those in diaspora to remain calm and await further developments.
A conference in the Lou area is to be announced in coming days, with the aim of recognising and dignifying Lou Nuer contributions to South Sudanese statehood.