Sudan turns violent after vice president's death
8/1/2005 8:13 AM
Sudan turns violent after Garang's death
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) Rioters burned cars and threw
stones in Sudan's capital on Monday after a helicopter
crash killed the country's vice president, who until
recently was a southern rebel leader.
Sudanese leaders appealed for calm and said the
nation's peace process would remain on track. But some
southern Sudanese said they were suspicious about the
circumstances of the death of John Garang, who was a
key figure in a fledgling peace deal between the
predominantly Arab Muslim government and the Christian
Anti-riot police were deployed to several areas of
Sudan's capital, Khartoum, where crowds were pelting
passers-by with stones and smashing car windows. At
least 10 private and government-owned cars were set on
The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said there were reports
of violence in south Sudan and issued a reminder of
its warnings to Americans to avoid non-essential
travel to the country. There were no details on the
The violence and widespread grief surrounding Garang's
death forced most in the capital to lock themselves
inside their homes. Shop owners shuttered their
"Murderers! Murderers!" yelled some southern Sudanese
protesters who alleged the Sudanese government, which
had battled Garang's rebel force for two decades
before this year's peace deals, may have been behind
"We lost Garang at a time when we needed him the most,
but we think that we have made great strides toward
peace and we believe that that peace process should
continue," said Garang aide Nihal Deng during an
emergency Cabinet meeting.
Garang's longtime deputy, Silva Kiir, was quickly
named to succeed him as head of his Sudan People's
Liberation Army and as president of south Sudan,
Garang spokesman Yasser Arman told The Associated
Kiir said he called a meeting of the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement top decision-making body to
assemble for an emergency meeting. The SPLM became
part of the national unity government in July, when
Garang became vice president.
"I call upon all members of the SPLM and the entire
Sudanese nation to remain calm and vigilant," Kiir
Garang died when the helicopter he was flying in
crashed into a mountain in southern Sudan in bad
weather, killing him and the other 13 people on board,
Sudan's government said Monday.
In the capital of neighboring Kenya, groups of
southern Sudanese men huddled to discuss Garang's
death. Nairobi has been the base for Garang's southern
Sudan liberation movement and is home to thousands of
One Sudanese man in Nairobi, Atem Maper, 30, said that
younger southern Sudanese were suspicious of the
circumstances of Garang's death.
"People are worried that the war will continue," Maper
said. "They didn't understand the way he died. We are
going to see."
But the chief mediator during Sudans' peace
negotiations, Kenyan retired general Lazaro Sumbeiywo,
said he was sure there was no foul play in Garang's
death because he flew over an area he controlled.
"I totally disregard that (foul play theory)
completely because the area he was flying into was an
area he controlled," Sumbeiywo said.
Garang's movement and the government vowed to move
ahead with the peace process. But the charismatic
leader's death strikes a blow to the January peace
deal that ended a 21-year civil war between the mostly
Muslim north and the Christian and animist south, in
which some 2 million people died.
Asked if there were any doubts over the cause of the
crash, Garang spokesman Yasser Arman told The
Associated Press that the group was awaiting an
"intensive investigation to determine the cause."
The crash of Garang's flight brought up the specter of
the 1994 downing of the airplane of Rwandan President
Juvenal Habyarimana, who had been trying to implement
a power-sharing deal between his fellow Hutus and the
rival Tutsis. His death opened the doors to the
Rwandan genocide in which more than 500,000 people
Mohamed Osman reported from Khartoum, and Tanalee
Smith reported from Kassala, Sudan. Henry Wasswa
contributed from Kampala, Uganda. Maggie Michael
contributed from Cairo.