It is currently in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian crisis originating from the conflict between militias and rebel groups.
1945 - 2005
Sudanese advocate for the Bor Dinka people.
Born in Wagkulei, John Garang is from the Bor Dinka people in the southern Sudan and the most influential advocate on their behalf in the face of the Khartoum government. He was educated at Catholic mission schools in southern Sudan and graduated from high school in Tanzania. In 1970 he joined the southern resistance movement, AnyNya, which was later incorporated into the Sudanese armed forces (after the Addis Ababa negotiated peace in 1972). He rose to the rank of colonel in the Sudanese army.
Garang received his bachelor of science degree from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1971 and later returned to the United States for military training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1981 he earned a Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University, focusing on economic development of the southern Sudan. Garang taught at the University of Khartoum and the Khartoum military academy.
The Addis Ababa peace accords broke down after Islamic law was made state law in Sudan. Garang was sent to the south in 1983 to put down the mutinies of southern officers led by Kerubino Kwanyin and William Bany. Instead he joined the revolt and he and a group of other officers and civilians founded the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), of which he became chairman, and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), of which he became commander. Garang was responding to attempts by the Sudanese government under Muhammad Jaʿfar Numeiri to eliminate local autonomy in southern Sudan, which had been agreed to in Addis Ababa in 1972. Garang favored a federal relationship between the southern regions and the government in Khartoum, and also objected to Khartoum's decision to divide the previously united southern region along ethnic lines. He opposed the imposition in September 1983 of shariʿa, or Islamic law, on the non-Muslim south. Garang wrote later that in founding the SPLM his aim was "to create a socialist system that affords democratic and human rights to all nationalities and guarantees freedom of religion, beliefs and outlooks." His movement was quickly categorized as being communist and secessionist, although he denied the validity of both labels.
At various times Garang received support from Libya (until 1985), from Ethiopia (until the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991), and newly independent Eritrea on Sudan's eastern border, especially under the rule of Isaias Afwerki. Garang found it difficult to attain political unity among his followers because of their diverse ethnic loyalties; for example, he sought to divide the Nuer from the Dinka but in doing so intensified the war. He has also had personal conflicts with his commanders. In the protracted civil war against the Sudan government in Khartoum, neither side has been able to win in this war of attrition, nor has peace been successfully negotiated.
In 1989 an Islamist military regime backed by the National Islamic Front and its leader, Hasan alTurabi, became intransigent on the issue of removing shariʿa as state law. Still not seeking secession, Garang tried to make southern Sudan a world political issue. In this effort he was helped by U.S. Congressperson Mickey Leland, who welcomed him to congressional hearings on Sudan in July 1989. But Leland died in a plane accident shortly afterward. During the 1990s southern Sudan was in the international limelight because of severe food shortages and famine; displacement of humans and loss of life estimated at one to two million persons; the "lost boys," young refugees resettled in the United States; and allegations about the revival of slavery. Since 1995 Garang has been military commander of the opposition National Democratic Alliance forces in Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as remaining head of the SPLM.
Garang, John. The Call for Democracy in Sudan, 2d revised edition, edited by Mansour Khalid. New York; London: Kegan Paul, 1992.
"John De Mabior Garang." In Historical Dictionary of the Sudan, 3d edition, edited by Richard A. Lobban, Jr., Robert S. Kramer, and Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban. Lanham, MD, and London: Scarecrow Press, 2002.
— PAUL MARTIN, UPDATED BY CAROLYN FLUEHR-LOBBAN
President of Southern Sudan
|In office |
January 9, 2005 – July 30, 2005
|Succeeded by||Salva Kiir|
|Born||June 23, 1945 |
A member of the Dinka ethnic group, Garang was born into a poor family in Wagkulei village, near Bor in the upper Nile region of Sudan. An orphan by the age of ten, he had his fees for school paid by a relative, going to schools in Wau and then Rumbek. In 1962 he joined the first Sudanese civil war, but because he was so young, the leaders encouraged him and others his age to seek an education. Because of the ongoing fighting, Garang was forced to attend his secondary education in Tanzania. After winning a scholarship, he went on to earn a B.A. in economics in 1969 from Grinnell College. He was known there for his bookishness. He was offered another scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, but chose to return to Tanzania and study East African agricultural economics as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow at the University of Dar es Salaam. As a member of the University Students' African Revolutionary Front, a student group at the university, he made the acquaintance of Yoweri Museveni, who would go on to become president of Uganda and a close ally. However, Garang soon decided to return to Sudan and join the rebels.
The civil war ended with the Addis Ababa agreement of 1972 and Garang, like many rebels, was absorbed into the Sudanese military. For eleven years, he was a career soldier and rose from the rank of captain to colonel after taking the at Fort Benning, Georgia. During this period he took four years academic leave and received a master's degree in agricultural economics and a Ph.D. in economics at Iowa State University, after writing a thesis on the agricultural development of Southern Sudan. By 1983, Col. Garang was the head of the Staff College in Omdurman.
The rebel leader
In 1983, Garang went to Bor, obstensibly to mediate with about 500 southern government soldiers in battalion 105 who were resisting being rotated to posts in the north. However, Garang was already part of a conspiracy among some officers in the Southern Command arranging for the defection of battalion 105 to the anti-government rebels. When the government attacked Bor in May and the battalion pulled out, Garang went by an alternate route to join them in the rebel stronghold in Ethiopia. By the end of July, Garang had brought over 3000 rebel soldiers under his control through the newly-created Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), which was opposed to military rule and Islamic dominance of the country, and encouraged other army garrisons to mutiny against the Islamic law imposed on the country by the government. This action marked the commonly agreed upon beginning of the Second Sudanese Civil War, which resulted in one and half million deaths over twenty years of conflict. Although Garang was Christian and most of southern Sudan is non-Muslim (mostly animist), he did not initially focus on the religious aspects of the war.
The SPLA gained the backing of Libya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Garang and his army controlled a large part of the southern regions of the country, named New Sudan. He claimed his troops' courage comes from "the conviction that we are fighting a just cause. That is something North Sudan and its people don't have." Critics suggested financial motivations to his rebellion, noting that much of Sudan's oil wealth lies in the south of the country.
Garang refused to participate in the 1985 interim government or 1986 elections, remaining a rebel leader. However, the SPLA and government signed a peace agreement on 9th January 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya. On July 9, 2005, he was sworn in as vice-president, the second most powerful person in the country, following a ceremony in which he and President Omar al-Bashir signed a power-sharing constitution. He also became the administrative head of a southern Sudan with limited autonomy for the six years before a scheduled referendum of possible secession. No Christian or southerner had ever held such a high government post. Commenting after the ceremony, Garang stated, "I congratulate the Sudanese people, this is not my peace or the peace of al-Bashir, it is the peace of the Sudanese people."
The United States State Department argued that Garang's presence in the government would have helped solve the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, but others consider these claims " excessively optimistic". 
In late July 2005, Garang died after the Ugandan presidential Mi-172 helicopter he was flying in, crashed. He had been returning from a meeting in Rwakitura with long-time ally President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Sudanese state television initially reported that Garang's craft had landed safely, but Abdel Basset Sabdarat, the country's Information Minister, went on TV hours later to deny the report. Soon afterwards, a statement released by the office of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir confirmed that a Ugandan presidential helicopter, crashed into "a mountain range in southern Sudan because of poor visibility and this resulted in the death of Dr. John Garang DeMabior, six of his colleagues and seven Ugandan crew members." His body was flown to New Site, a southern Sudanese settlement near the scene of the crash, where former rebel fighters and civilian supporters have gathered to pay their respects to Garang. Garang's funeral took place on August 3 in Juba. His widow promised to continue his work stating "In our culture we say, if you kill the lion, you see what the lioness will do."
Questions about death
Both the Sudanese government and the head of the SPLA blamed the weather for the accident. There are, however, doubts as to the truth of this, especially amongst the basis of the SPLA. Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, claims that the possibility of "external factors" having played a role could not be eliminated.
Effect upon Peace
Considered instrumental in ending the civil war, the effect of Garang's death upon the peace deal is uncertain. The government declared three days of national mourning, which did not stop large scale rioting in Khartoum which killed at least 24 as youth from south Sudan attacked north Sudanese and clashed with security forces. After three days of violence, the death toll had risen to 84. Unrest was also reported in other parts of the country. Leading members of the SPLM, including Garang's successor Salva Kiir Mayardit, stated that the peace process would continue. Analysts suggested that the death could result in anything from a new democratic openness in the SPLA, which some have criticized for being overly dominated by Garang, to an outbreak of open warfare between the various southern factions that Garang had brought together.
Partial Bibliography of His Publications:
Garang, John 1992 John Garang Speaks. M. Khalid, ed. London: Kegan Paul International.
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Sudan People's Liberation Army
Aliases: Sudan People's Liberation Movement
Base of Operation: Sudan
Founding Philosophy: The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was formed in 1983 to oppose the implementation of shari'a law, or strict Islamic law, by Sudanese President Nimeiri. While the largely Muslim population of Sudan's Northern provinces generally welcomed the change, the Christians and Animists of southern Sudan were alarmed. According to the treaty that had ended the country's first civil war in 1972, the South was to maintain its autonomy from the North. Nimeiri's attempt to implement shari'a nation-wide violated that agreement and created widespread resentment among the Southern population. Sent by the Army to quell a mutiny in the South, Lt. Col. John Garang instead embraced the insurrection and became its leader, forming the SPLA. From an initial nucleus of 500 soldiers in 1983, Garang's rebel army grew rapidly, hitting an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 by 1991. The group's stated goal is the formation of a secular, democratic Sudan. In the mid-nineties, the SPLA became the vanguard element of a rebel umbrella organization, the National Democratic Alliance, which even contained some moderate Muslim parties. The SPLA's success, however, cost the citizens of Sudan dearly. It is estimated that the civil war, which did not cease until 2002, took some 1.5 million lives.
Although the SPLA was primarily designed to perform military operations against the Sudanese Army, it also engaged in a few acts of terrorism against westerners and western interests in the country. In 1999, the SPLA took six Red Cross workers hostage, four of whom died in captivity. Although SPLA spokespeople claim that the deaths occurred during a botched rescue attempt, the Sudanese government claims that they were executed. Two years later, the SPLA claimed responsibility for one successful bombing and one unsuccessful bombing attempt against oil companies operating in Southern Sudan. The SPLA specifically targeted the oil industry to prevent oil proceeds from strengthening the government forces. In 2002 the Khartoum government and the rebels were able to hammer out a power-sharing agreement that has ended, or at least significantly lowered the ferocity of, Sudan's civil war. As part of the implementation of this agreement, John Garang was named Vice-President of Sudan in 2004.
Current Goals: As the SPLA has become a mainstream political force within Sudan, its interest in using terrorism as a means of achieving its goals has waned. On January 9th, 2005, the SPLA signed a peace agreement with the Khartoum regime, officially ending the Civil War that had ravaged Sudan since 1983. Under the terms of the agreement, southern Sudan will gain religious autonomy and a share of the nation's oil wealth. After the 6-year period of autonomy, residents of the South will vote on a referendum on whether to remain a part of Sudan or form an independent nation. Observers both inside and outside of Sudan hope that this peace agreement can also help resolve the violent humanitarian crisis going on in the Darfur region of western Sudan.(excerpt from terrorist profile by e-team)
NGO COMMITTEE ON DISARMAMENT PEACE & SECURITY
Leading the second Sudanese civil war that began in 1983 was John Garang at the head of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Armed mainly by the Marxist regime in Ethiopia, his initial call to arms in the south was for a united, secular and "socialist" Sudan. However, as support from American evangelicals grew more significant � Garang is a Christian educated in the United States � socialism was droppe