John Garang Buried; Museveni Angers Sudanese Authorities

John Garang Buried; Museveni Angers Sudanese Authorities


130 people killed in a week of riots.

By UG Pulse Staff
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First published: August 7, 2005


Former rebel leader and Sudanese vice president John Garang de Mabior, who was killed along with eight Ugandans and six other Sudanese in a helicopter crash July 30, was buried Saturday in an elaborate state funeral. His death has caused riots and killings in the streets of Sudan. Now, tensions are rising between the Ugandan leadership and Sudanese authorities in Khartoum.


Garang, who was returning to Sudan after having private talks with Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni, was a popular leader among his people and it showed Saturday. People lined the streets in towns across southern Sudan, waving his picture and carrying placards with statements of support and grief. His funeral was attended by the leaders of Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa and other world dignitaries including representatives from the United States. And, his coffin, draped with a Sudanese flag and preceded by a southern Sudanese flag, was flown from town to town in Sudan before being taken to his hometown of Juba for burial on a hill.

Declared a national holiday in Sudan, the day of the funeral remained calm -- but the commemorations of Garangs life did not end without controversy. Museveni, a close friend, political ally and material supporter of Garang, told mourners in another town, Some people say accident; it may be an accident, it may be something else. Either the pilot panicked, either there was some side wind or the instruments failed or there was an external factor. In a move that onlookers are calling a snub or an avoidance of confrontation, Museveni did not attend the funeral but sent his minister of defense to represent Uganda. He also declared a national day of mourning for Garang in Uganda on Aug. 4th.

According to the Associated Press, Sudanese authorities responded angrily to Museveni comments, calling them inciting and insinuative. We are making efforts to investigate the saddening incident, said Information Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdera to the official Sudan News Agency. And we have already started our investigations by setting up a technical committee and we hope that all parties, especially Uganda, would stop issuing statements which are not based on facts.

Some 130 people were killed in riots in Sudan last week following the announcement of Garangs death.

Leader of the dissident Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) for 21 years, Garang stood up to the predominantly Muslim and Arab government on behalf of the black, Christian and traditional African religion adherents in the South. He demanded freedom, rights, economic equality for his people and spoke out against government abuse and state violence against blacks in the south. Called charismatic by most who met him, Garang led with an iron hand and enjoyed widespread loyalty. Then on July 9, as part of a groundbreaking peace and power-sharing agreement in the fractured East African country, he was inaugurated as president of the south of Sudan and vice president of the Sudan. Only three weeks later he was killed while flying in a Ugandan helicopter in southern Sudan.

Speaking at the funeral, Garangs wife, Rebecca, said she will not mourn her husbands death as long as the people of Sudan remain committed to his cause. Dr. John wanted you to be united, she said, looking at the coffin repeatedly. If we were not united, we would not have reached here. She also encouraged the mourners to put their differences aside.

Emphasizing the Sudanese governments commitment to peace, Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir emphasized his intention to carry out the peace plan. On Sunday, he installed, Garangs successor, also a member of the SPLM, Salva Kiir Mayardit to take Garangs place. Kiir vowed to execute the ideas of Garang both in letter and spirit.

Meanwhile, the helicopter black box has been recovered and a team of investigators from Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and the United States are looking into the cause of the crash. The SPLM has agreed to wait until the end of the investigation to state its official position.




By UG Pulse Staff
more from author >>
First published: August 7, 2005
UG Pulse Staff used Associated Press articles to compile this report.