Sudan: What Lies Ahead After Garang's Death In southern Sudan this weekend, crowds mourned the burial of John Garang, the rebel leader-turned-Sudanese Vice President. Garang died earlier this past week in a helicopter crash, just 21 days after joining a government of national unity.
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Sudan: What Lies Ahead After Garang's Death

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Sudan: What Lies Ahead After Garang's Death

Sudan: What Lies Ahead After Garang's Death

Sudan: What Lies Ahead After Garang's Death

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In southern Sudan this weekend, crowds mourned the burial of John Garang, the rebel leader-turned-Sudanese Vice President. Garang died earlier this past week in a helicopter crash, just 21 days after joining a government of national unity.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

In southern Sudan's capital of Juba yesterday, a funeral service was held for former rebel leader turned Sudanese Vice President John Garang. The 60-year-old Garang died early last week in a helicopter accident. His death came just 21 days after he joined a government of national unity as part of a peace agreement to end more than two decades of civil war in southern Sudan. David McGuffin reports from Juba.

DAVID McGUFFIN reporting:

Outside All Saint's Catholic Cathedral, a choir sings one of John Garang's favorite hymns.

(Soundbite of hymn)

Choir: (Singing in foreign language)

McGUFFIN: In front of the cathedral, his coffin, draped with South Sudan's black, red and green flag, sits on a podium, flanked by several African leaders, his family, members of his former rebel movement, the president of Sudan and his successor, former rebel military leader Salva Kiir.

(Soundbite of funeral service)

Vice President SALVA KIIR (Sudan): Your groundwork and vision shall not perish after his departure.

(Soundbite of applause)

McGUFFIN: Speaking of Garang's legacy, Kiir pledged to continue not just with the implementation of the north-south peace agreement negotiated by Garang but with his efforts to bring peace to the whole of Sudan, including Darfur.

(Soundbite of funeral service)

Vice Pres. KIIR: As my late brother used to say, `You cannot have peace in South Sudan when war rages in the east and west of Sudan.' That is hardly comprehensive peace.

(Soundbite of crowd)

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

Crowd: (Foreign language spoken)

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

Crowd: (Foreign language spoken)

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

Crowd: (Foreign language spoken)

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

McGUFFIN: Heavy riots broke out in Juba and in Khartoum after the news broke last Monday of Garang's death.

(Soundbite of women crying)

McGUFFIN: But there was no violence in Juba during the funeral, only sorrow and a dignified calm, despite the lurking presence of thousands of northern government troops on the streets.

(Soundbite of funeral service)

(Soundbite of hymn "Nearer My God to Thee")

Choir: (Singing in foreign language)

President OMAR AL-BASHIR (Sudan): (Foreign language spoken)

McGUFFIN: During the funeral service, Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, pledged to implement the peace agreement fully and gave new southern leader Salva Kiir a hug in front of the crowd. But part of that peace agreement includes the right of South Sudan to separate from the north in six years' time, a solution John Garang didn't approve of but Salva Kiir might. Dan Eiffe is publisher of the southern-based Sudan Mirror newspaper.

Mr. DAN EIFFE (Publisher, Sudan Mirror Newspaper): Garang, number one, was a unionist and really pushed that line, particularly of late, and believed in that thing. And that's very serious now because Salva will not push the same thing, same agenda, and he doesn't share the same vision as Garang on that one and will not be able to articulate it as strongly. This will create a lot of suspicion in the north for Salva. They won't like him very much.

McGUFFIN: After a week of rioting in the wake of Garang's death, there were real fears that South Sudan would slip back into the warfare that claimed two million lives. And yet, by the end of Garang's funeral, the mood of the crowd was positive, a feeling that their leader's vision of peace may yet still have a chance.

For NPR News, I'm David McGuffin.

HANSEN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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