Sudan: Khartoum calm after days of bloody riots

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

KHARTOUM, 5 August (IRIN) - Calm has returned to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after three days of bloody riots that left a total of 130 people dead in the city and a number of other towns, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported on Friday.

"Since yesterday [Thursday] morning, no incidents have been reported to us. The situation in Khartoum is calm, quiet," Lorena Brander, spokesperson for the ICRC in Khartoum said.

"This morning, we called several staff members stationed around Khartoum and everything seemed fine," she added.

Although there was still a substantial police presence in the streets, Brander noted, the military had reduced its heavy deployment seen in the initial stages of violence. Some shops had reopened and public transport had resumed.

The violence erupted on Monday, following the announcement of the death of First Vice President, John Garang, in a helicopter crash. At least 111 people were killed in Khartoum, while clashes in the southern towns of Juba and Malakal left 19 people dead.

The riots were fuelled by rumours of conspiracy regarding Garang's sudden death among people from southern Sudan, who feared that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end the 21-year civil war between Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/Army) and the Sudanese government was in jeopardy.

"We are all in a stand-by mode while we continue to monitor the situation," Brander said. "We hope that it remains quiet during the funeral tomorrow," she added.

The body of the First Vice President was flown from his residence in New Site, southern Sudan on Thursday through six towns in the south and the transitional areas for viewing, before it is laid to rest in Juba on Saturday.

The new SPLM/A leader, Salva Kiir Mayardit, repeated his appeal to all Sudanese to refrain from violence.

"Everybody should remain calm, and this was my appeal when I broke the news of the death of our leader in Nairobi on Monday," Kiir said on Friday.

"I'll repeat the same appeal - that everybody should be calm and allow us to investigate the circumstances that led to the helicopter crash, and if the unrest continues it undermines the implementation of the peace agreement.

"So everybody must be calm so that we honour him by the implementation of the peace agreement," he said.

Garang died on Saturday en-route to southern Sudan from Uganda, following a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni. Sixteen other people who were travelling with him in the Ugandan military helicopter also died.


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