Sudan: UN mission reports calm in Khartoum, south, ahead of Garang's funeral

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today reported calm in the capital, Khartoum, and in the south following three days of unrest sparked by the death in helicopter crash last Saturday of first Vice-President and former southern rebel leader John Garang.

The Mission's confirmation of easing tensions in Khartoum comes after repeated calls from Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council for the people of Sudan to unite in their sorrow at Mr. Garang's death, and to finalize a January peace deal between the Government and southern rebels that was his legacy.

For more than two decades, Mr. Garang headed the southern-based Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). He signed a power-sharing peace deal with the Khartoum Government in January, which ended a 21-year civil war and led to his swearing in as Sudan's first Vice-President only three weeks ago.

UNMIS chief Jan Pronk meanwhile will be travelling to the southern city of Juba tomorrow to attend Mr. Garang's funeral on Saturday. Mr. Pronk announced yesterday that the Mission has offered its assistance in the expected investigation into the helicopter crash.

In other news, UNMIS said that harassment of aid delivery vehicles in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region, where conflict between the Government, allied militias and rebels that has killed at least 180,000 people and driven 2 million more from their homes in the past two and a half years.

In one incident, a UN World Food Programme (WFP) truck was stopped by armed men and the contents of the truck including significant quantities of wheat and sugar was looted, the Mission said.