Garang's Death: Implications for Peace in Sudan

The Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) leadership has acted quickly so far to regroup and reorganise, but the loss in a fatal helicopter crash on 30 July 2005 of John Garang, the only leader the movement has known in its 21 years, creates an opening for spoilers on all sides to exploit any signs of uncertainty. The country is at risk of eventually losing a peace agreement that was already looking somewhat shaky. Garang's movement must prove it can hold together without his authoritarian hand and unmatched prestige. It is now somewhat less likely to be able to make a major contribution to resolving the war and humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur or solving the simmering problems of eastern Sudan. The odds of southern secession have increased, to the discomfort of the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum. Key international players like the U.S., who helped broker the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), will have to do much more to help the parties save it.