Who would have thought that exactly three weeks after
the historical and momentous occasion of the
inauguration of the Transitional Government of
national unity in Khartoum we would be mourning the
death of the Vice President of Sudan , under that
peace agreement , Dr John Garang . In less than a
month, the huge hope and expectations raised by the
peace agreement ( signed in Naivasha, Kenya , in
January ), negotiated for several years culminating in
the inauguration of July 9 seem to be doomed .
The predictable riots in Khartoun mostly by grieving
southerners and the even more predictable high handed
response by the Sudan security forces only serve the
cynicism of many people both inside and outside who
have always believed that peace between the north and
south , meaning Arabs and Africans is not possible.
Betwwen July 7 and 9 the whole world watched the
outpouring of emotions on the streets of Khartoum and
other parts of Sudan as John Garang arrived for the
innauguration of the transitional government. Little
did we all know that the millions that turned out to
welcome the newly rehabilitated Rebel leader to a city
he last visited 21 years ago and the many more who
turned out on July 9 for the inauguration and saw him
take the oath of office as the first Vice President
of Sudan were saying Good bye to Dr John.
Like most people when I first learnt of the
disappearance of the Helicopter in which Dr. Garang
was travelling I immediately suspected foul play . It
was a hope against hope between Saturday evening and
Sunday evening when it was finally confirmed that the
aircraft had crashed and there were no survivors.
The immediate consensus from many quarters was that
foul play was unlikely. This quick verdict further
fuelled one’s suspicions. Before a definitive verdict
was declared there should have been an investigation
first. What made many people to buy into this ‘ no
foul play’ explanation are basically two reasons. One,
Dr Garang was travelling from Uganda, on one of
President Museveni’s aircraft flown by Ugandan crew.
Since Museveni has been the closest regional ally of
Dr John’s it is inconceivable that he would have been
party to any conspiracies against his long term
comrade. The other reason I believe is that nobody
wants to contemplate foul play because the peace
process in which everyone has invested so much
material and political resources for many years both
regionally and internationally will be dead. Therefore
fear of failure and desperation for victory dictates
giving benefit of the doubt.
Both reasons are not enough for us to suspend all
disbelief. If you are an Arab chauvinist (as there are
many among Sudan’s ruling elite) who did not believe
in sharing power with African Sudanese and who have
spent all your live demonising Garang the January
peace accord and Garang’s swearing in on July 9 was a
day of defeat for you. If you were also a Southern
chauvinist who believe that peaceful coexistence with
your Aran neighbours was not possible then Garang will
be a traitor as far as you were concerened. Between
both groups Killing Garag would have been on the cards
but which of them had the means? Also If you were
planning to take your revenge what other circumstance
will give you the best cover for your dastardly act
and a fool proof alibi than Garang travelling to his
foremost allied country and in that country’s aircraft
manned by its citizens, to mount your counter attack?
Even Agatha Christie could not have constructed a
better perfect murder . Therefore while we are assured
that Garang was under the safe care of his Ugandan
allies who will guarantee us that there were no
enemies lying in the jungles of kidepo and environ as
the helicopter headed for Lumbek?
As for the other reason about wanting peace at all
cost it has thrown blinkers in the eyes of many of us
. While I am prepared to agree that the top leadership
in Khartoum , i.e . omar Al Bashir and Ali Osman
Taha, may mean their commitment to peace we cannot
say the same for some of their Generals. Those
fervently opposed to the new peace deal do not need
the permission of Khartoum to carry out there anti
peace efforts. While they may be allies of Khartoum
and could have been aided and abetted by them Khartoum
may not be able to control all their efforts. We have
curent examples among the Janjaweed gonocidiare
elements in Darfur who began as allies of Khartoum but
now operate beyond the control of their former masters
and active collaboration of rogue generals and other
establishment figures. Another pertinent example is
the Sudan – Uganda deal that even gave Uganda right of
hot pursuit into Sudan territory against the LRA. More
than two years later LRA is still very much
operating in Sudan with the connivance of sections of
the Sudanese Military and security establishment. Who
is to say the same type of fifth columnists were not
at work in the border regions of Uganda, Kenya and
Sudan last Saturday?
We welcome Uganda’s immediate setting up of an
investigation panel and call for joint effort with the
Government of Sudan , IGAD, and the African Union and
international community to independently investigate
the crash in order to assure those who are extremely
doubtful that it was an unfortunate accident . The
same was said of Samora Machel’s crash but we know
Until we have the report of that panel it is difficult
to say a proper Good bye to comrade John Garang .
That will come later. For now one is full of Why and
who questions. Before you accuse me of being
conspiratorialist please let me share an anecdote with
you. A Schizophrenic Man was accused of being paranoid
and he retorted to his accuser: “The fact that I may
be paranoid does not mean that there is no one
conspiring against me."
Garang's Group Asks for Probe Into Death
August 03, 2005 9:12 AM EDT
KHARTOUM, Sudan - The political movement of a former rebel leader turned
vice president has called for an international investigation into the
helicopter crash that killed their leader and sparked deadly clashes in
Sudan, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Pagan Amum, a leading member of John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation
Movement, said the group hoped the United Nations, Uganda, Kenya, the United
States and Britain would take part in the probe, according to comments
published in the Sudan Vision newspaper.
On Saturday, Garang's helicopter crashed into a southern mountain range in
bad weather, only three weeks after he was named first vice president and
joined the government that had long been his enemy. The move was part of a
peace deal that southerners and northerners together celebrated as opening a
new page in the conflict-torn country.
Garang's death ruptured the long coexistence in Khartoum between northerners
and the nearly 2 million southerners who live in squatter neighborhoods in
the city and in four massive camps for displaced people on its outskirts.
At least 49 people were killed in two days of violence, according to a U.N.
official, though the number was not officially confirmed.
Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said Tuesday he is creating a panel of
three experts to investigate the crash. Garang was flying on one of
Museveni's personal Russian-built Mi-72 helicopters when it crashed into a
southern Sudan mountain near the border with Uganda in bad weather.
"We have also approached a certain foreign government to rule out any form
of sabotage or terrorism," Museveni said in a statement. It said the
helicopter's instruments had been upgraded in a recent overhaul of the
The SPLM and the government have said they believe the crash was an accident
due to poor weather. It was not clear whether the request for a probe was a
change in that stance.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged calm, saying of the helicopter crash
"all indications as of now seem to indicate it was an accident."
Amum also urged Sudanese to refrain from violence.
"We once again appeal to the people to avoid anything that would mar the
climate of peace, albeit the great loss and suffering they feel," Amum told
the English-language daily.
The government and SPLM have sought to reassure people that the fragile
peace was not threatened by the death of the charismatic Garang. Amum
stressed that the implementation of January's comprehensive peace agreement
would continue as planned.
Amum said Salva Kiir Maydarit, who has been named as Garang's successor in
the SPLM, would fly to Khartoum after the funeral on Saturday to be sworn in
as first vice president.
Two State Department officials were expected in Sudan Wednesday "to confer
with the parties and encourage them to maintain momentum on the
comprehensive peace agreement and on Darfur," department spokesman Tom Casey
The conflict in Darfur pits rebels from black African tribes against Arab
militias know as the Janjaweed whom the government is accused of backing.
Since the conflict began in February 2003, war-induced hunger and disease
have killed more than 180,000 people and driven more than 2 million from
their homes, according to U.N. estimates.
Clashes erupted Monday in Khartoum, when angry SPLA supporters reacted to
the news of Garang's death by smashing and burning vehicles and looting
stores. Some blamed the government for his death.
On Tuesday, frightened Sudanese in some neighborhoods carried clubs and
bricks for protection as the violence turned ethnic and sectarian, pitting
Muslim Arabs against Khartoum residents from the mostly Christian and
Armed gangs, said to be Arabs, broke into homes of southerners in several
parts of the capital on Tuesday, and Garang supporters attacked Muslim
Angry southerners from camps outside the capital entered the city and
attacked and looted markets in Omdurman and killed a Muslim imam, a senior
U.N. official in Khartoum said, speaking on condition of anonymity because
he was not authorized to talk to journalists.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew was declared for the second night in a row and armored
vehicles patrolled the streets of downtown. In the outlying neighborhoods
where the violence was focused, the military presence was even heavier.
Many of Khartoum's police forces trained to deal with riot situations are
currently in Darfur to help with security in that troubled western region.
Associated Press writer Mohamed Osman contributed to this report.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press.