Garang's Death: Implications for Peace in Sudan

Posted in Africa | 09-Aug-05 | Source: International Crisis Group

Nairobi/Brussels, 9 August 2005: Sudan's leaders and the international community must not let the death of John Garang create openings for spoilers to wreck the country's shaky peace process.

Garang's Death: Implications for Peace in Sudan,* the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, explores the consequences of the helicopter crash that took the life of the long-time rebel leader and –- for three weeks -- Vice President on 30 July and looks at his successor, Salva Kiir Mayardiit. Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) has regrouped and reorganised quickly, but the loss of the only leader it has known in its 21 years will be hard to overcome.

"The key to implementing the peace deal John Garang negotiated is for the SPLM to hold together", says John Prendergast, Special Adviser to the President of Crisis Group. "If the movement unravels, the peace agreement will as well".

There is no question the SPLM is weakened. It is now somewhat less likely to contribute in a major way to resolving the war and humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur or solving the simmering problems of eastern Sudan. The odds of southern secession have also increased, to the discomfort of the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum.

Key international players such as the U.S., who helped broker the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Khartoum government and the SPLM, will have to do much more to help the parties save it. Measures are needed in three areas to stabilise the situation in the short term.

First, the government and the SPLM must do everything in their power to prevent recurrence of the inter-communal violence that erupted in Khartoum and parts of the South after Garang's death. Secondly, the new SPLM leaders must remain united in the face of what will surely be efforts to divide them and undermine the movement. Thirdly, increased international support for the peace agreement is needed at this difficult time.

The troika partners -- the U.S., UK and Norway -- have a particular responsibility. Washington's appointment of a Special Representative was important but more must be done to ensure spoilers do not torpedo the CPA.

"Hardline elements in Khartoum opposed to the CPA could try to exploit Garang's death to back away from its strict implementation", says Suliman Baldo, Crisis Group's Africa Program Director. "The UN Security Council must react quickly to any violations of the CPA's timetable in order to keep the parties on course, and hardline elements in Khartoum must be made to realise that any effort to manipulate the situation to produce new violence would be strongly opposed".

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 485 555 946
Jennifer Leonard (Washington) +1 202 785 1601
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*Read the full Crisis Group briefing on our website: