More violence in aftermath of Garang’s death

Northern and southern Sudanese clashed in Khartoum on Tuesday in a second day of violence sparked by the death of ex-rebel leader John Garang who helped end two decades of war in Africa’s largest country.

Authorities sent in police and helicopters to quell the violence in a shantytown on the south side of Khartoum following Monday’s riots in which at least 36 people died.

“There were some limited clashes in different places in the outskirts of the capital. Police have established control over these areas now,” State Minister for the Interior Ahmed Mohammed Haroun told journalists in Khartoum.

Haroun did not give a number for how many people had been killed or injured.

William Ezekiel, editor of the Khartoum-based daily Khartoum Monitor, which has close ties to Sudan’s southern community, told Reuters that residents reported clashes in outlying areas in the north and south of the capital.

In an area about 18km north of the capital’s centre, he said two southerners were shot dead by angry northerners and fighting was still going on. In the south, he said a church and school compound were attacked in one area and 26 people were injured in another.

He said the attacks appeared to have been started by northerners after southerners took to the streets a day earlier. “Today, it is northerners who started,” he said.

Officials were not immediately able to give further details.

In the country’s south, grieving relatives and supporters of Garang — who led their war against the north since 1983 — paid respects to him around a simple bed in a bush town.

On the international stage, diplomatic moves began to ensure the January peace deal Garang’s former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) struck with the government of Sudanese President Omar Bashir would not unravel.

Two senior US envoys were on their way to Sudan to encourage a smooth transition in SPLM to new leader Salva Kiir.

A delegation from Khartoum also went south to pay respects. Garang, who just three weeks ago became Sudan’s vice president in a peace deal hailed as a rare success for the continent, was killed when a Ugandan helicopter he was travelling in went down in bad weather at the weekend.

There has been no suggestion of foul play.

Fellow ex-fighters gathered in New Site, a small settlement in the remote bush of southern Sudan, where Garang’s body was laid in a wooden casket with a flag. Scented charcoal burned in the modest room where the casket rested.

The SPLM announced five days of mourning and said Garang would be buried in their regional seat Juba on Saturday after his body was taken to other towns in the region for mourning.

“The burial of our great leader John Garang will be in Juba on Saturday the 6th of August 2005 at noon,” said a senior SPLM official Pagan Amum. “He died in office and the choice of Juba is determined by his stature.”

Southerners afraid, angry

The SPLM has moved swiftly to choose Garang’s deputy, Kiir, to formally succeed him. The SPLM expects Kiir to take Garang’s post as first vice president in the new power-sharing government set up in the January accord that ended the civil war.

Some southerners, who have long complained of discrimination by the Islamic authorities based in the north, fear their position may be weakened without Garang.

In some of the worst riots in the capital in years, angry southerners rampaged through Khartoum on Monday, burning shops and vehicles. After a curfew overnight, armoured vehicles deployed at strategic points around the capital on Tuesday.

The United States dispatched two top diplomats — Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Connie Newman and the US special envoy to Sudan Roger Winter — to the country to meet the new SPLM leadership and talk to Khartoum.

Analysts say Kiir may bring a more collegial style to southern politics which Garang had long dominated.

“John Garang was a special person, very charismatic and visionary. He was different from Salva Kiir who is calm, composed and calculative,” said Kenya’s Lieutenant-General Lazarus Sumbeiywo Kenyan, chief mediator of the peace deal.

A delegation from Khartoum, led by Federal Affairs Minister Nafie Ali Nafie, went to New Site on Tuesday morning.

“We want to affirm here that we will work together with the leadership of the SPLM,” Nafie said, standing next to Kiir.

Sudan is divided between an Arabised Muslim north and a south which is a mix of African ethnicities with Christians, animists and Muslims.

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