Death of Sudan’s Vice President
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JIM LEHRER: Now, Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports on the death of a key leader in Sudan.
LINDSEY HILSUM: John Garang bid farewell to his Ugandan hosts yesterday and got into the president’s helicopter. It was to be his last journey. The helicopter crashed. Apparently in bad weather on the way back to Sudan. Everyone inside was killed. Rioting broke out this morning when the news reached the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Anger and grief turned to violence. Many southern Sudanese who fled the war and settled in the capital took it out on the property of northern Sudanese.
Some attacked northern Sudanese in the streets and there were clashes with the police. They looted the market in Khartoum, stealing bags of grain. At least 24 people were killed, including several policemen. The Sudanese government held an emergency cabinet meeting and has now imposed a curfew, banned public gatherings and sent soldiers as well as police on to the streets. The civil war in southern Sudan lasted 20 years ending only this year. As leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the SPLM, John Garang was both a ruthless warlord and a clever political operator. While many southerners wanted to secede from the North he wanted a share of power.
In January, he signed a peace deal with the government in the North, which was partly brokered by the Americans. Then three weeks ago, something many Sudanese thought they’d never see — Garang the southerner holding hands with northern leaders. Christian and Muslim, African and Arab sharing power. Celebrations in Khartoum as John Garang took up the position of vice president of Sudan.
AHMED DIRAIGE, Former Governor, Darfur: His vision is for Sudan to be a country which is unique. It’s not entirely African. It’s not entirely Arab. It is both. It is not entirely Muslim. It’s not entirely Christian. It is both and more.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Shock and grief as southern Sudanese refugees gathered at the SPLM headquarters in the Kenyan capital this morning. Inside the man who takes over as leader of the SPLM and possibly as vice president.
SALVA KIIR MAYADIT, SPLM Leader: We the SPLM leadership will continue the vision and objectives of the movement that he has articulated and hoped to implement.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Some suspect foul play so the Ugandan president is ordering an inquiry into the helicopter crash to be arbitrated by a foreign government. He’s not said which. John Garang was an authoritarian leader to say the least. Optimists say the SPLM may now become more democratic but many fear that his demise will lead to in-fighting, violence and at worst an end to the long-fought-for peace between North and South Sudan.