Monday, August 01, 2005

Sudan VP Garang killed in crash

Yesterday, a BBC news report said John Garang was on his way back to Sudan from Uganda when his plane or helicopter went missing for several hours. Later on in the evening, the report was updated saying he was safe and well.

This morning it was a shock to see a new BBC report saying he was killed in crash.

Here is a copy of today's report:

Sudan's Vice-President John Garang, a former rebel leader, has been killed in a crash, the government has said.

Mr Garang had been missing since Saturday, when contact was lost with his helicopter flying back from Uganda.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher says Mr Garang's importance in holding together southern Sudan cannot be overstated.

He was greeted as a peacemaker by more than a million people when he was sworn in three weeks ago as part of a deal ending a decades-long civil war.

His death will be a huge blow to the Sudanese people, our correspondent adds.

Mr Garang's former rebel movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, is said to have held a crisis meeting in Nairobi when news of a possible crash began to spread.

Mr Garang steered the group through a bloody 21-year civil war against the government in the north.

He ruled it with an iron hand, imprisoning or killing anyone who threatened to stand in his way.

But he managed to keep the disparate movement together, despite many disagreements.

The conflict in Sudan ended with the signing of a peace agreement in January, and Mr Garang became vice-president in a new government of national unity.

He declared the peace agreement a "great battle and a major victory".

The dignity of the southern people, he said, had been restored: "Nobody will take us for granted - we have come to stay".

With his death the future of peace in Sudan is once more in the balance, correspondents say.

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