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Bush Praises Leader's Peace Efforts, Sends Envoys to Meet With Both Sides

8/3/2005 4:13am

in the washington post

Fragile Post-Garang Sudan Concerns U.S.

Bush Praises Leader's Peace Efforts, Sends Envoys to Meet With Both Sides

By Robin Wright

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; Page A08

The Bush administration yesterday dispatched two senior State Department officials for talks with rival factions in Khartoum and southern Sudan to prevent Sudan's fragile peace from unraveling after Vice President John Garang's death in a helicopter crash.

President Bush yesterday hailed Garang as a "visionary leader and peacemaker" who had served as a "beacon of hope" for ethnic and religious groups in Africa's largest country.

In a statement, Bush pledged that the United States remains committed to helping Sudan implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January. The pact ended end 22 years of warfare between northern Arabs who controlled the central government and a southern faction of Christians and animist Africans led by Garang for two decades.

"Garang's vision of peace must be embraced by all people in Sudan so that they can live in a democratic, peaceful and united country," Bush said. U.S. officials said initial but incomplete information indicates that the crash of the Ugandan presidential helicopter carrying Garang and top aides was due to bad weather rather than foul play.

After increasing involvement in both the peace process and the Darfur crisis, the United States expressed concern yesterday that riots in Khartoum after Garang's death would escalate and renew tensions. Connie Newman, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and Roger Winter, special U.S. envoy to Sudan, left for the African nation to encourage the parties "to maintain momentum" on efforts toward peace and ending the genocide in Darfur, State Department spokesman Tom Casey announced.

In Khartoum, the U.S. Embassy issued a warning to American citizens to "stay indoors in a safe area," because of disturbances in the capital. Americans considering travel were urged to postpone nonessential visits.

U.S. strategy has rested heavily on Garang. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with him several times, including on her visit to Khartoum and Darfur on July 21. In a statement, she praised his "intellect and energy," and commended Sudan's major parties for recommitting to the peace process in the wake of the leadership crisis.

Over the past five months, Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick traveled to Khartoum and Darfur three times to help cement the peace and work on ways to alleviate the separate humanitarian suffering in Darfur, a region where whole villages have been destroyed and thousands displaced.

The State Department said it expects "an orderly and peaceful succession" to the post of first vice president.

But U.S. analysts and international conflict monitoring groups expressed concern about the fallout from Garang's untimely death. The rioting and looting "threaten to further destabilise the situation if not brought under control," the Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned yesterday.

Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army quickly named deputy Salva Kiir Mayardit as his successor. But experts said Garang had been key to achieving the peace agreement and would not be easily replaced as a leader.

The new crisis in Sudan is "worrisome" because Garang was a "charismatic leader who could bring his ethnic group, the Dinkas, and the whole southern region, with him," said Walter H. Kansteiner III, former assistant secretary of state, now at the Scowcroft Group. "What he did was bold and needed someone who had that ability to pull everyone along with him.

"But the deal is done and everyone has accepted and embraced it. John put them on the right road. He'll always be remembered as the guy who made it happen but here are other people who can implement it," Kansteiner said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Sudan's Fledgling Peace Now in Peril

Calm Urged As Riots Follow Official's Death

By Emily Wax

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; Page A01

KIGALI, Rwanda, Aug. 1 -- Rioters rampaged through the capital of Sudan on Monday, smashing cars and shops in violence that officials said left at least 20 people dead, as news spread that John Garang, a prominent rebel leader and the newly installed first vice president of Sudan, had been killed in a helicopter crash Sunday.

World leaders quickly urged Sudanese factions to carry on the peace process in which Garang, 60, played a major role. His triumphal move just over three weeks ago to the capital, Khartoum, marked the end to a 21-year civil war between Sudan's Muslim north and the largely Christian and animist south -- a conflict separate from that in the Darfur region in western Sudan, where violence continues. The Khartoum government called for three days of mourning, and Garang's longtime top deputy was named to replace him as head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Rebecca Garang, right, wife of John Garang, grieves after his death in a helicopter crash. She said there was no evidence of foul play. The former Sudanese rebel leader had become a vice president as part of a peace deal. (By Radu Sigheti -- Reuters)

Garang's widow also urged calm, addressing the public by radio, and asked that the peace process continue. In an interview, she said that despite rumors, there was no evidence of foul play in her husband's death.

"We want to keep his legacy alive," Rebecca Garang said by telephone from southern Sudan. "Keeping the peace is how we can honor his memory."

But across Sudan, where people were beginning to lay down their guns, debate a new constitution and draw up plans to build schools and hospitals after years of war and deprivation, many were asking what impact Garang's death would have on the country's fledgling peace process.

Garang died when his helicopter crashed in bad weather just a few miles from his base, New Site village, in southern Sudan. He was returning from an official visit to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at his ranch.

More than a million people celebrated at the historic ceremony in Khartoum on July 8, when the burly and bearded Garang was sworn in as vice president under a U.S.-backed peace deal between the Arab-led Khartoum government and the largely African rebel forces of the marginalized south that had long fought for separation.

On Monday, Sudanese officials said the peace deal must be upheld. Lt. Gen Omar Hassan Bashir, Sudan's president and the man Garang once proclaimed as his sworn enemy, called for calm and said in a statement that the country faced "a difficult test." A funeral was expected to be scheduled at New Site.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed "great sorrow" at Garang's death and urged Sudanese leaders to "continue with the process of reconciliation." Annan said Bashir assured him that he would work "very, very closely" with Garang's movement to advance the peace process. "We should all do whatever we can to ensure that it doesn't unravel," Annan said.

The United States, meanwhile, drafted a U.N. Security Council statement lauding Garang for his role in ending Sudan's civil war and calling on Sudanese people "to honor his memory by restoring peace and calm throughout Sudan."

In Khartoum, however, widespread rioting was reported throughout the day. The airport was closed, and diplomats said they heard gunfire throughout the capital. There were also reports of unrest in areas of southern Sudan.

"There are massive riots here. There's a lot of destruction of property. It has now gone to also burning vehicles, instead of just smashing windows. We received reports that the army now is deploying to get the situation under control," said Col. Bjarne Giske, head of the Joint Monitoring Commission, a U.S.-backed force, speaking from Khartoum.

Some rioters accused the Sudanese government of plotting a coup to kill Garang, shouting, "Killers and murderers!" observers reported.

The mood quieted but remained tense after officials imposed a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. A Western diplomat reported that the streets were "empty, very quiet," but that there had been "lots of looting, burning, stoning and some deaths." The diplomat said there was "great despondency" among both southern and northern Sudanese.

Rebecca Garang, right, wife of John Garang, grieves after his death in a helicopter crash. She said there was no evidence of foul play. The former Sudanese rebel leader had become a vice president as part of a peace deal. (By Radu Sigheti -- Reuters)

In Juba, one of southern Sudan's largest cities, soldiers once under Garang's control started looting Arab-owned businesses, according to television reports. They also demanded the expulsion of thousands of Sudanese army troops. Aid workers in southeastern Sudan reported that at least one person had been killed in rioting.

Sudan's civil war took 2 million lives and left millions more displaced. Under the peace agreement, residents of the south will vote in six years to determine whether they want to secede from the rest of the country. The area is one of the poorest places on Earth; children routinely die of malaria and other diseases, such as guinea worm, because of lack of health centers in 90 percent of the region.

On Monday there were concerns that the north-south peace could collapse, and that the loss of Garang's might also lessen chances of bringing an end to the conflict in Darfur.

"John Garang's death has enormous implications for regional peace and security. He was the linchpin of the north-south deal; he was going to be called upon to play the essential role in bringing the warring parties in Darfur together," said John Prendergast, a Sudan expert with the International Crisis Group, who was visiting the region. "His passing has potentially catastrophic consequences."

Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, a Kenyan who helped mediate the peace talks in Kenya, said Garang's death "means a huge setback . . . a loss of a father and a loss of a real leader."

Some officials from Garang's rebel group said they were worried about fighting within the movement, even though his top deputy, Salva Kiir Mayardit, was named to replace him. Kiir is a charismatic figure who commands most of the rebel forces. He sparred with Garang in the past but had recently stood by his side.

"The death of Garang comes at a very critical time in the peace process. There is already a problem that people might misread or read some foul play into his death," said Peter Adwok, a spokesman for the movement.

Staff writer Colum Lynch at the United Nations and staff researcher Robert E. Thomason in Washington contributed to this report.

Leaders Call Garang Death a Loss to Sudan


The Associated Press
Monday, August 1, 2005; 10:00 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Sudanese exiles wept and wailed Monday as they mourned the death of John Garang, the formal rebel leader whose peace deal with the government he fought for two decades raised hopes they could finally return home.

Grief and uncertainty now vied with that hope _ among leaders in the region as well as among the Sudanese.

In this photo provided by the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, right, compares notes with John Garang, left, Vice President of Sudan, during the inaugural ceremony of Sudan's Government of National Unity in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2005. Garang was found dead early Monday, Aug. 1, 2005, near the Uganda-Sudan border after the helicopter he was traveling in crashed, Saturday, a senior Ugandan official said. (AP Photo/UN, Evan Schneider) (Evan Schneider - AP)

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, urged the Sudanese to pursue the peace "Garang was working toward." Jordan's King Abdullah II sent a cable on Monday to Sudan's president extolling Garang for his "pivotal role in achieving the national reconciliation and ensuring the success of the peace process in southern Sudan."

Arabs, particularly neighboring Egypt with its history of intervening in Sudan, had watched the Sudanese peace process closely, fearful of the possibility an Arab neighbor could be split.

Garang, 60, Sudan's vice president for just three weeks, was killed when his helicopter crashed into a southern mountain range in bad weather after taking off from Uganda, where he had been on a private visit. His body was found in the wreckage early Monday.

In Nairobi, wailing mourners gathered outside the headquarters of Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which was based in Kenya during the civil war.

There was none of the violence that broke out in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where angry protesters accused the Sudanese government of being behind the crash and 36 people died in riots, but some Sudanese in Nairobi were suspicious.

"People are worried that the war will continue," said Atem Maper, 30. "They didn't understand the way he died. We are going to see."

President Bush described Garang as a "visionary leader and peacemaker" and said the United States remained committed to Sudan's peace process.

Garang's longtime deputy, Salva Kiir Mayardit, was quickly named to succeed Garang as head of his movement and as president of south Sudan, Garang spokesman Yasser Arman told The Associated Press in Nairobi.

Garang had been named vice president under the peace agreement, which also promised the south a share of power, a say in exploiting its resources and a promise of democratic elections. The settlement allowed Garang to set up an interim administration in the south until a referendum on secession in six years.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said Garang had been key to the peace, but expressed "hope and optimism that every effort will be taken to ensure that the physical absence of Dr. Garang will not in any way jeopardize the gains made towards durable peace."

Kibaki ordered the Kenyan flag flown at half staff for three days in honor of Garang.

In New York, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was in Khartoum on July 9 when Garang was sworn in as first vice president and remembered the promise surrounding the event.

"Now it is up to the SPLM to arrange succession," Annan said. "It is essential that the movement holds together and joins the government in Khartoum."

European Union Development Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said he had "the highest respect" for Garang, and added: "It is now essential that other Sudanese statesmen work together to meet the challenge of continuing his work and consolidating the peace process."

John Duom, 67, an SPLM official who had known Garang since childhood, compared him to Moses.

"He has shown us the direction to follow," said Duom, wiping tears from his eyes. "We wish God had spared his life until after six years, after the referendum."

Sudanese VP Killed in Aircraft Crash


The Associated Press
Monday, August 1, 2005; 5:41 AM

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Sudanese Vice President John Garang, a former rebel leader who is a key figure in the country's fledgling peace deal, died when the aircraft he was traveling in crashed into a southern Sudan mountain range in bad weather, Sudan's government said Monday.

Garang's death would be a heavy 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.

Sudanese rebel leader John Garang speaks to the media in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan.16, 2003. Garang, a former rebel leader who is a key figure in the country's fledgling peace deal, was found dead early Monday, Aug. 1, 2005, near the Uganda-Sudan border after the helicopter he was riding in crashed, a senior Ugandan official said. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi, File) (Khalil Senosi - AP)

Thirteen others aboard the craft were also killed, an official statement said. The crash site was found near the Uganda-Sudan border, a Ugandan official said.

Ugandan officials said Garang and the others were flying in one of President Yoweri Museveni's personal helicopters, but the Sudanese statement said it was a plane. The conflict could not be immediately reconciled. Ugandan and Sudanese forces had been searching for Garang's aircraft since Sunday.

"It has now been confirmed that the plane crashed after it hit a mountain range in southern Sudan because of poor visibility and this resulted in the death of Dr. John Garang DeMabior, six of his colleagues and seven other crew members of the Ugandan presidential plane," according to a statement released by the office of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir.

The 60-year-old former rebel, who was sworn in as vice president just three weeks ago, left on a flight from Uganda for southern Sudan at 5:30 p.m. Ugandan time Saturday afternoon, Sudanese and Ugandan officials said. It was not clear when the last contact with his craft took place.

Garang's aircraft had attempted to land in the New Kush region of southern Sudan but aborted the landing because of bad weather and headed back south, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said early Monday. Weather reports showed rain in the area.

Garang, who earned a doctorate from Iowa State University, is seen as the sole figure with the weight to give southern Sudanese a role in the Khartoum government, which they deeply mistrust. He also was a strong voice against outright secession by the south, calling instead for autonomy and power-sharing.

Sudanese have celebrated the power-sharing agreement _ and a new constitution signed afterward _ as opening a new chapter of peace and as a chance to resolve other bloody conflicts in Sudan, including the humanitarian crisis in the western region of Darfur. Garang was also seen as a great hope for peace in Darfur.

"The (Sudanese) president has appealed to the people to be calm, expressing that although the loss is great but the peace process will continue because peace has now become the property of the Sudanese people and peace-loving people around the world," the Sudanese statement said.

Garang was sworn in as vice president on July 9 _ second only to his longtime enemy, President Omar el-Bashir. He and el-Bashir were to work on setting up a power-sharing government and on elevating Garang's rebel troops to an equal status with the Sudanese military.

There is no other leader of Garang's stature in the former rebel movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which he founded and dominated for 21 years. His arrival in Khartoum on July 8 to take the vice president's post brought millions of southerners and northerners to the streets in celebration.

"We reaffirm the peace process will continue until we reach the objectives set and his (Garang's) departure will reinforce and give us more strength," the Sudanese statement said.

Salva Kiir, the vice president of south Sudan who was also Garang's deputy, said from his office in Nairobi, Kenya, that he ordered the former rebel movement's leadership council to hold an emergency meeting. He said the group will continue with Garang's policies and remain committed to the peace agreement.

The flight's disappearance 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 were killed.

That genocide took place after months of preparation by Hutu militants _ something that has not taken place in Sudan amid the good feelings over the peace deal.

Garang was returning home from a private visit to Uganda, flying from the capital Kampala to southern Sudan, said Ugandan army spokesman 2nd Capt. Dennis Musitwa.

A Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, operates in the area and has shot down Ugandan military helicopters in the past.

El-Bashir clearly saw Garang as an important partner in sealing the peace, ensuring the south does not secede, and in repairing Sudan's international reputation. With a speed stunning to many in Sudan, the Sudanese state media went from describing Garang in the darkest terms to respectively calling him "Dr. Garang" after the peace deal was struck.


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