He had wanted to spearhead a new era in his country. But less than a month after joining the new power-sharing administration, John Garang is dead – the hopes of many in Sudan in tatters. The violence that followed his helicopter crash reflects deep divisions in Sudanese society. They are divisions that left some 1.5 million people dead in what was Africa’s longest-running civil war. As a rebel leader, Garang fought to gain more equality in southern Sudan. The war broadly pitted the Islamist government in the capital against the mostly Christian and animist south. The troubled Darfur region is not covered in the deal that resolved the conflict – a deal signed in Kenya in January in the presence of foreign dignitaries. Colin Powell, then the US Secretary of State, said it would close a dark chapter in Sudan’s history but Garang’s death has raised fresh fears for the future. His Sudan People’s Liberation Movement had seen its former leader join his ex-foe the president in the new coalition. And although the late rebel leader’s deputy has been appointed to succeed him in government, some southerners fear that without Garang himself their position will inevitably be weakened.
Garang's death raises questions over Sudan's future