Former rebel leader sworn in as Sudanese VP
KHARTOUM: Former rebel chief John Garang took his place in the Sudanese leadership on Saturday, swearing the oath of office as first vice president in a peace government after more than 20 years fighting from the swamps of the south.
At a ceremony in the presidential palace, six months after a peace agreement between north and south, Garang became deputy to his old enemy President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who signed an interim constitution and took his own oath of office. The long and bitter war between the Khartoum government and Garang’s rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) ended in January when they signed an agreement which includes a new coalition government and arrangements to share wealth and power.
Garang and Bashir took their oaths of office under the eyes of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Arab League chief Amr Moussa and African heads of state, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Bashir spoke in Arabic, the language of the Arabised north, and Garang in English, the language preferred by many educated southerners, reflecting the diversity of Sudan, which has dozens of languages and ethnicities. Muslim and Christian clerics introduced the ceremony.
“For the first time in many years, a lasting peace for all the people of Sudan is now within reach. To secure that peace, no effort must be spared,” Kofi Annan told the gathering. reuters