Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army

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Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SMLA), also known as the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, was formed in 1983 by Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiri "to oppose the implementation of shari'a law, or strict Islamic law." [1]

"While the largely Muslim population of Sudan's Northern provinces generally welcomed the change, the Christians and Animists of southern Sudan were alarmed. According to the treaty that had ended the country's first civil war in 1972, the South was to maintain its autonomy from the North. Nimeiri's attempt to implement shari'a nation-wide violated that agreement and created widespread resentment among the Southern population. Sent by the Army to quell a mutiny in the South, Lt. Col. John Garang de Mabior instead embraced the insurrection and became its leader, forming the SPLA. From an initial nucleus of 500 soldiers in 1983, Garang's rebel army grew rapidly, hitting an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 by 1991. The group's stated goal is the formation of a secular, democratic Sudan. In the mid-nineties, the SPLA became the vanguard element of a rebel umbrella organization, the National Democratic Alliance, which even contained some moderate Muslim parties. The SPLA's success, however, cost the citizens of Sudan dearly. It is estimated that the civil war, which did not cease until 2002, took some 1.5 million lives." [2]

"As the SPLA has become a mainstream political force within Sudan, its interest in using terrorism as a means of achieving its goals has waned. On January 9th, 2005, the SPLA signed a peace agreement with the Khartoum regime, officially ending the Civil War that had ravaged Sudan since 1983. Under the terms of the agreement, southern Sudan will gain religious autonomy and a share of the nation's oil wealth. After the 6-year period of autonomy, residents of the South will vote on a referendum on whether to remain a part of Sudan or form an independent nation. Observers both inside and outside of Sudan hope that this peace agreement can also help resolve the violent humanitarian crisis going on in the Darfur region of western Sudan." [3]

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