South Sudan: Basic Information on David Yauyau’s Rebel Movement

The rebellion led by David Yauyau in South Sudan’s Jonglei State has attracted some press coverage lately; here I’ll try to provide some background sources about Yauyau and his movement, as well as some key dates. Yauyau has rebelled twice – from May 2010 to June 2011, and from April 2012 to the present. Small Arms Survey published a backgrounder (.pdf) in 2011 on the first rebellion. The backgrounder analyzes the rebellion partly in terms of internal politics within the Murle community, to which Yauyau belongs. Reports by the Sudan Tribune (April 2012) and Reuters (September 2012) offer information on the second rebellion and its place within the broader constellation of rebel movements South Sudan faces. From the Reuters story:

Yau Yau, thought to have limited military experience, first rebelled in May 2010 after standing as an independent candidate in the state’s parliamentary election for the Gumuruk-Boma constituency. He lost to the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the ruling party in South Sudan] candidate by a big margin.

During his first revolt, he gained support amongst the youth because he was seen as a champion of Murle interests. But he also lost backing when he accepted a South Sudan government amnesty in June 2011, allegedly in exchange for a house, cars and cash, according to Murle involved in the negotiations.

He defected to Khartoum in April while supposedly being treated in a Kenyan hospital, and later went back to Jonglei with 19 men, arriving in July, Murle leader Konyi said.

According to a radio station called Radio Yau Yau, which the Juba government believes is broadcasting from Khartoum, his rebels are fighting in reaction to abuses committed during the disarmament program, especially the rape of Murle women.

VOA has more on Yauyau’s recruitment among Murle youth in the wake of government disarmament campaigns in Jonglei State in March 2012.

In April of this year, continued attacks by the rebels seemed to indicate that they were rejecting a government offer of amnesty. In an interview with VOA this week, Yauyau said that the rebels want the government to create a new state for minority ethnic groups like the Murle:

“This time around, we are fighting for the people of South Sudan, the minority communities like the Murle and the others…They don’t have a voice… they don’t have rights to live in the land. We don’t have a voice in the government. We are struggling together with them and we’ve lost some of our sons.”

Here are the dates of some battles between Yauyau’s forces and the SPLM’s Army, the SPLA:

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