Monday, August 01, 2005

Sudan: Garang is dead!

John Garang, a former rebel leader who became Sudan’s vice president three weeks ago, has been killed in a helicopter crash, raising serious concerns about a peace process that ended a 21-year civil war and efforts to bring stability to Africa’s largest country.

After his death was announced on Monday, thousands of southern Sudanese rioted in Khartoum, clashing with police and looting shops. Similar unrest was reported in Juba and other southern towns in what were government-controlled areas, indicating the volatile situation in a country blighted by decades of conflict and misrule.

Mr Garang, leader of the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), died after a Ugandan presidential helicopter that was taking him from Entebbe to southern Sudan crashed in bad weather on Saturday, officials said.

Six of his bodyguards and the crew also perished.

The 60-year-old, who had been holding talks with Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, was seen as crucial to the success of a January peace deal that ended the conflict in southern Sudan, which cost an estimated 2m lives, mainly through war-induced famine and disease.

His death will also severely test the cohesiveness of the SPLA, a group often plagued by internal wrangles, which he had led as chairman and army commander since the war erupted in 1983. (source)
He survives decades of warfare, only to die in peace time! (Well, "peace".)