By 2018 and the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the political coalition of James Tor Monybuny, the Padang Dinka governor of Central Upper Nile, was in control of much of the state. After a successful government-backed military campaign, the Shilluk had been largely displaced from the east bank of the White Nile, to which both Padang Dinka and Shilluk lay claim, and the Agwelek, a Shilluk communitarian militia, had been defeated. The Agwelek was part of the main South Sudanese opposition group—the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in-Opposition (SPLA-IO)—which lost a string of battles in the run-up to the signing of the R-ARCSS and ceded control of much of the movement’s heartland. The peace agreement, signed in Addis Ababa on 12 September 2018, was effectively a negotiated surrender.
Four years is a long time in politics. Government support for Monybuny has given way to something much more complicated, as the regime of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir attempts to maintain control in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, by dividing and weakening opponents and loyalists alike. Monybuny’s coalition was torn asunder, partly as a result of Kiir’s machinations, and the deputy governor replaced in May 2022. Meanwhile, the state’s population is angry and immiserated. The R-ARCSS has concentrated power and wealth in the hands of an unaccountable South Sudanese political elite, and the people of Upper Nile have seen no dividends from what is becoming an increasingly violent peace.
Source: Small Arms Survey Org.