Sudan: Summary of SRSG Jan Pronk's press conference - Wednesday, 3 Aug 2005

In his first press conference since the death of John Garang, SRSG Jan Pronk offered his condolences to the Sudanese authorities, the people of Sudan and Garang's family. He said the United Nations is mourning this tragic loss -- one which is a loss for all of Sudan.
"Garang was a guarantee that the future would be brighter, much better than the past," Pronk said.

Pronk will lead a UN delegation which will attend Garang's funeral on Saturday in Juba, southern Sudan. As well, the UN will be providing the SPLM -- the organizers of the funeral -- with logistical assistance for the funeral arrangements.

The United Nations has also offered its assistance in the expected investigation into the helicopter crash which killed Garang. Pronk reiterated that there is no reason to suggest or believe that the crash was anything but a tragic accident. "No reason whatsoever to believe it was sabotage or a shooting [down]," Pronk said.

Pronk said he is pleased with the reactions of the Government of Sudan and the SPLM and their desire to continue with the implementation of the CPA. He noted that he had personally witnessed the sorrow of Sudan's leaders, both from the north and south; and it is a sorrow shared by everybody.

Pronk said he understands that the SPLM wants to nominate Salva Mayardit Kiir as its leader as well as to the post of First Vice-President of Sudan. He noted that the fact that there was no jockeying for power within the SPLM following Garang's death is a very good sign of the maturity of the SPLM. Pronk added that Kiir has been with Garang from the beginning, and has had the respect due to a military commander, from Sudanese hailing from the country's north and south. "He is the right choice," Pronk said.

Looking ahead, Pronk said there are two main issues to deal with. First, in the longterm, nothing should distract Sudan from the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Pronk said that Garang's death may lead to a delay of a week or two in the implementation process but this is understandable. He added that the CPA's implementation is important not only for north and south Sudan, but also for eastern Sudan and Darfur.

Secondly, in the short-term, Pronk noted that many people are angry and frustrated over Garang's death, but there is no need for rioting and the riots should stop. "I call on everybody, on the opinion leaders and on the leaders, on the police, on the leaders of the communities, on fathers and mothers at home, also on young people who are leaders amongst themselves, to come to their senses and go again for exactly what they were enjoying on 9 July," Pronk said. He added that what had happened on 9 July was not a one-day occurrence, rather, it was the beginning of a new era and that era had not faded away with the death of one leader.

Pronk said that Garang would not have wanted violence to take place, and urged Khartoum residents to keep calm and keep the hope for peace alive.