Revisiting the Past: The Founding of the Sudan African National Union (SANU) – Part 2

Posted: January 13, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, Mangar Amerdit

The History of Internal Conflicts within SANU

By Mangar Marial Amerdid, Juba, South Sudan

Aggrey Jaden

January 13, 2018 (SSB) — Following the formation of Sudan African National Union (SANU) in 1962, with Joseph Oduho as the President, William Deng Nhial as Secretary of External Affairs and Fr. Saturnino Lohure as Patron, the political organization had established relative unity, but this was short lived.

First, accusations swirled around over the mismanagement of funds by the SANU leaders. SANU had not opened a central bank account where all the money received by leaders could be deposited and the use of funds accounted for. Each leader operated independently when it came to financial matters. Secondly, the three leaders were pursuing different strategies that did not work for the unity of SANU.

For instance, Oduho was more concerned with establishing the political wing of the organization, William Deng continued to travel extensively throughout Europe and Fr. Saturnino focused on the military strategies of the conflict by recruiting soldiers and acquiring weapons. Starting from 1963, Fr. Saturnino and Joseph Lagu spearheaded the military attacks of the Anya-Nya Movement while working alongside SANU against Sudan government.

They oversaw guerrilla fighters attack different posts held by the government in the South. Unfortunately, the lack of effective communication and cohesion among the SANU leaders was inadequate to maintain the prolonged operation of the organization as a united front.

At the first SANU convention in Kampala held from November 6th to 16th 1964, it was decided that the restructuring of the SANU leadership was needed and there should be proportional representation by provinces; 7 delegates for each province. The Southern region of Sudan had 3 provinces (Equatoria, Upper Nile, and Bahr el Ghazal).

Regrettably, not all the delegates were in attendance at the convention, the serious disagreements had resulted in William Deng not attending the convention. As a result, Equatoria had 7 delegates, Upper Nile had 5 delegates and Bahr el Ghazal had 2 delegates.

The voting for the SANU leadership positions was as follows:

Aggrey Jaden – President

Philip Pedak – Vice president

William Deng Nhial – Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Dominic Muorwel – Secretary for Special Affairs (mainly defense)

Elia Lupe – Secretary for Interior

George Kwanai – Secretary of Information

Michael Wal – Secretary of Finance

Lawrence Wol Wol – Secretary for Education

Joseph Oduho – Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (Justice)

Oliver Albino – Secretary for Refugee Affairs

Fr. Saturnino – Patron (Spiritual head, would swear in officers, etc.

When General Ibrahim Abboud’s military government was deposed on October 26, 1964, without consulting the SANU leadership, William Deng wrote a letter to Prime Minister Sirr al-Khatim al-Khalifa of Sudan that “(i) SANU be recognized as a political party to fight the coming general elections on the policy of Federal Sudan and (ii) that a roundtable conference on the South, with overseers from neighboring African countries, be convened.” The implication of William Deng’s initiative on behalf of SANU deepened the separation between the leaders.

Founders of Anyanya one

Founders of Anyanya one – Father Saturnino Lohure (Patron), Joseph Oudho (President) and William Deng Nhial (Secretary General)

In January 1965, SANU split into two different factions; SANU (Inside) which operated within the South and SANU (Outside) that operated outside the Sudan. The factions operated for a period of time separately before SANU (Inside) split completely from SANU (Outside). In June 1965, Oduho, Fr. Saturnino, Marko Rume, George Kwanai, Pancrasio Ocheng and other politicians who were part of SANU (Inside) formed the Azania Liberation Front (ALF).

William Deng continued to use the name SANU in his political operations while other members who had remained with SANU (Outside) established themselves into the Sudan African Liberation Front (SALF) led by Aggrey Jaden. The remaining politicians created a short-lived organization called Sudan African Freedom Fighters Union of Conservatives (SAFFUC).

Noting the formation of different political organizations which weakened their objective as a collective group of Southern politicians; Southern leaders who were in exile worked on rebuilding unity and thus SALF became part of ALF in December 1965 with Oduho as President and Jaden as Vice-President. However, in March of 1966, Jaden was removed from ALF for allegedly meeting with William Deng in Nairobi without receiving formal authorization.

To conclude, it is important to note that our Southern Sudanese leaders of this time period were divided along the lines of those who saw no reason to negotiate with the Government of Sudan due to their unrelenting oppression towards Southerners and those who sought peaceful solutions to the turmoil in the country by working with the government.

The author, Hon. Mangar Amerdid, is the National Coordinator of Northern Corridor Integration Projects ( for South Sudan, the Chairman of SOS Children Villages International for the Republic of South Sudan, and the Founder of the Leadership Institute of New Sudan (LIONS). He graduated with Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and a minor in Economics from University of Colorado, USA. You can reach him via his email:

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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