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Sudan violence after death of vice president may be only beginning
Those who live by the sword sometimes die while traveling in a presidential helicopter.

Though John Garang was born into a Christian family, he is unlikely to make it into any "heroes of the faith" lists. As founder and leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, he is reported to have committed numerous human rights abuses, including forcibly recruiting child soldiers, killing thousands of civilians, and taking political prisoners.

Nevertheless, his appointment as vice-president of Sudan was a huge step forward for the country—the result of a difficult peace agreement in January between Garang and Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir. About 2 million people had died in the 21-year civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian and animist south.

Yesterday, three weeks after Garang took office, the Ugandan presidential helicopter he was traveling in crashed, killing him and 13 others. (The Ugandan government had loaned Garang the helicopter.)

Both the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement blamed foul weather for the crash, but some southerners in Khartoum cried foul play. At least 36 people, including policemen, were killed as rioters shouted "Murderers! Murderers!"

But Garang's death could have longer lasting effects on Sudan's fragile peace than today's rioting, says The Christian Science Monitor:

Because the [peace] deal was dominated so personally by Garang and his northern counterparts - who negotiated word by word and line by line for years—its success depended largely on the considerable force of Garang's personality and power.
His demise, analysts say, will test whether the impetus for peace is larger than one man. ...
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Sudan After Garang
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August 2005

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