Key findings

  • Governor Nguen Monytuil Wejang has entrenched his control of Unity state by assembling a coalition across party and ethnic lines. He has also replaced opposition administrators with his own cadres and convinced a number of commanders to defect.

  • Despite his success in the state, Nguen faces a challenge from Tut Kew Gatluak, President Salva Kiir’s influential security advisor, while the Bul Nuer—the group from which both men hail—are split internally.

  • The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) deputy governor, Tor Tungwar, is unpopular with the military wing of his own party, which is attempting to unseat him. Opposition control of Panyijar county, one of the last strongholds of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in Unity state, is increasingly tenuous. Despite this political weakness, the population of Unity state still overwhelmingly backs Riek Machar’s SPLM/A-IO.

  • The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is preparing for 2024 elections in Unity by fragmenting opposition political blocs and competing for political constituencies. The internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Rubkona county are central to this competition: attempts to control populations—and attendant humanitarian resources—are one of the primary ways in which political struggle occurs in Unity state.

  • Nguen is using returnees fleeing the war in Sudan to consolidate control of contested territory on the border with the Ruweng Administrative Area, with the acquiescence of humanitarian agencies.