UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SUDAN: Uneasy calm in Khartoum as Garang successor named
KHARTOUM, 2 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Most streets in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, were calm on Tuesday morning, a day after dozens of people were killed in violent riots that followed the death of First Vice President John Garang in a helicopter crash near the Ugandan border.
There were, however, fresh reports of renewed rioting in southern Khartoum’s Jebera suburb and Haji Yusuf neighbourhood populated by many southerners, in the northeast.
The southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which Garang had led through two decades of war against the Sudanese government, named his deputy, Commander Salva Kiir Mayardit, as the new SPLM/A chairman.
At least 17 cars were destroyed in Monday's violence, which involved thousands of distraught and angry southerners. Sudanese military personnel were deployed heavily in the town, setting up roadblocks and manning strategic buildings.
The governor of Khartoum, Abdel Halim Ismail Mutafi, said 24 people were killed in the violence, but other media reports quoted unnamed sources as saying the death toll was over 30.
Many people on the streets of Khartoum on Tuesday told IRIN the violence had been "senseless".
However, broken windows and burned-out shop fronts were visible on several streets. A source who said he had counted at least 20 businesses looted and burned down in the city centre, said many rioters took to the streets after hearing rumours that Garang had been shot down.
The SPLM/A, which named Mayardit after an emergency meeting held on Monday in New Site, Eastern Equatoria State, appealed for calm and announced five days of mourning.
"The SPLM council of leadership, in its extraordinary meeting at New Site, southeast of Kapoeta town, Eastern Equatoria State, decided to appoint Cmdr Salva Kiir Mayardit as the leader of the SPLM, as well as commander general of SPLA," Pagan Amun, an SPLM/A spokesman, told reporters.
"We wanted to make the situation clear, we wanted no vacuum. We had to act swiftly and provide leadership," he added.
Burial arrangements were due to be announced on Tuesday. Garang's remains, along with some of those who died in the accident, were being guarded by soldiers at New Site.
In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement he was "deeply saddened" by Garang's tragic death.
"Dr Garang, who led the SPLM/A for more than 20 years, was a symbol of hope for millions of Sudanese who aspired to a better future," Annan said. "He was one of the main architects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA, the historic accord which was signed by the government of Sudan and the SPLM/A on 9 January, ending the civil war]."
Describing the death as a "terrible loss for Sudan", Annan said: "As the
country recovers from this loss, close collaboration between the signatories to the CPA will continue to be critical."
US President George Bush said he was sending two envoys to Sudan to support the peace process in Sudan. "The US is determined to maintain our commitment to the peace process in Sudan," Bush said.
The chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konaré, said: "Garang was recognised universally as the embodiment and symbol of the struggles of the people of southern Sudan [...] he never wavered in his conviction that this struggle should be waged and pursued in the context of the greater struggle for a united Sudan."
He added: "This seeming paradox in Garang’s convictions is what marked him out as a pragmatic statesman, a nationalist and a visionary who held out hope for the new Sudan, a diverse, pluralistic, democratic and united Sudan."
Garang was sworn into office as Sudan's First Vice President and President of southern Sudan three weeks ago. He also remained SPLM/A chairman.
He was killed on Saturday while flying back to his base in southern Sudan from a meeting with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. The MI-72 Ugandan presidential helicopter came down in bad weather, with some reports suggesting it ran out of fuel. All the 14 people on board were killed.
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