Sudan Turns Violent After a Leader Dies
Sadly, if predictably, a helicopter crash which killed Sudan’s vice president, John Garang, has led to mass rioting and death.
Sudan Turns Violent After a Leader Dies (NYT – AP)
Rioters burned cars and threw stones in Sudan’s capital Monday after a helicopter crash killed the country’s vice president, who until recently was a southern rebel leader. Sudanese leaders appealed for calm and said the nation’s peace process would remain on track. But some southern Sudanese were suspicious about the circumstances of the death of John Garang, who was a key figure in the fledgling peace deal between the predominantly Arab Muslim government and the Christian south.
Anti-riot police were deployed to several areas of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, where crowds pelted passers-by with stones and smashed car windows. At least 10 private and government-owned cars were set on fire. Khartoum’s governor ordered a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and the city’s streets were empty of people and traffic an hour before the order took effect.
Witnesses reported at least two people had been killed during clashes in the capital. There was no official confirmation. The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said there were reports of violence in southern Sudan and issued a reminder of its warnings to Americans to avoid nonessential travel to the country. There were no details on the southern violence.
The violence and widespread grief surrounding Garang’s death forced most in the capital to lock themselves inside their homes. Shop owners shuttered their stores. ”Murderers! Murderers!” yelled some southern Sudanese protesters who alleged the Sudanese government, which had battled Garang’s rebel force for two decades before this year’s peace deals, might have been behind the crash.
Unfortunately, with fragile institutions, the politics of the personal is the natural fallback. This region went through massive retalliatory violence a little over a decade when a similarly mysterious plane crashed killed the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda.