August 19, 2005
Posted to the web August 18, 2005
Frank Nyakairu & Grace Matsiko
Ms Rebecca Garang, the widow of fallen SPLA leader and former Sudanese First Vice President, Dr. John Garang, is in Uganda.
Her visit, three weeks after her husband's death, is meant to demonstrate the solidarity between Uganda and Southern Sudan.
Rebecca arrived in the country late Wednesday. The representative of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army/ Movement (SPLA) in Uganda, Mr Riak Jerobaom, told Daily Monitor yesterday that Rebecca's visit is a show of solidarity between Uganda and the SPLM.
"She is in the country and the main purpose of her visit is to show continued solidarity between Uganda and the SPLM," Riak said.
SPLM's Riak said Garang's successor, Salva Kiir Mayardit, is also expected to visit Uganda before going to New Site.
"As soon as the Southern Sudanese Constitution is completed he (Kiir) will visit Uganda," Riak said.
But the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Onapito Ekomoloit, denied knowledge of Rebecca Garang's presence in the country. "She (Rebecca) is a private citizen. If she visited I would not know because that is a private matter," Onapito said.
Rebecca's visit to Uganda almost coincided with the arrival of a Sudanese team commissioned by President Omar Bashir, headed by the former Vice-President, Mr Abel Alier, to probe the July 30 helicopter crash.
The team of six aviation experts was expected to arrive in Uganda yesterday to meet their Ugandan counterparts led by former Army Comamnder, Maj. Gen. James Kazini.
Dr Garang, the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement, died July 30 in a helicopter crash as he returned home after a two-day visit to President Yoweri Museveni. He was traveling in Uganda's presidential helicopter piloted by Col Peter Nyakairu, at the head of a six-person Ugandan crew that perished in the crash.
Yesterday Daily Monitor established that Sudanese ambassador to Uganda, Mr Hassan Ibrahim Karim, met Foreign Affairs Ministry officials in Kampala over the crash probe, among other issues.
President Yoweri Museveni, a known close friend to the late Garang, hailed Rebecca, who since the death of Garang has exhibited a strong will.
After friends and former enemies buried Garang on a hilltop at the proposed parliamentary site for New Sudan near Kujur hill, 3km east of Juba town on August 6, Rebecca called on all Sudanese to maintain the peace agreement for which her husband had struggled.
"Dr. John wanted you to be united," she told tens of thousands of mourners. "I will not miss my husband as long as you, the people of Sudan, are the watchdogs of the peace agreement," she said.
Museveni told mourners that he had been in telephone contact with Rebecca since Garang's death. He paid his last respects to Garang in Yei.