Garang, Sudan Beacon, Dies

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Sudan's Vice-President John Garang, a former rebel leader, has been killed in a crash, a UN official 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.

Garang left Kampala heading for the New Sight camp in southern Sudan and contact was lost with the plane. 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.
(BBC Online)


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