Church and political leaders are urging Sudanese to stay on the peace path after the death in a helicopter crash of John Garang de Mabior, the guerrilla leader who steered the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement into a government of national unity with the dominant Arab-Islamic government of Sudan after 21 years of civil war.
“Our people are now confused, but we hope those who have remained will steer the country to peace,” said Anthony Bangoye, the general secretary of the Sudan Catholic Bishop Regional Conference.
Garang was brought up a Christian and earned a doctorate in agricultural economics at Iowa State University. A former colonel in the Sudan People’s Armed Forces, he was sent to crush a mutiny in 1983. Instead he began a rebel movement against the dominant Islamic north, initiating a conflict separate from that currently taking place in Darfur, western Sudan.