Commemorating the 10th Anniversary: Who Killed Dr. John Garang de Mabioor?

Posted: July 30, 2015 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Editorials, Featured Articles, History, PaanLuel Wël

Who Killed Dr. John Garang?

Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Dr. John Garang’s Death

By PaanLuel Wël, Juba, South Sudan

  1. Introduction

“When my husband died, I did not come out openly and say he was killed because I knew the consequences. At the back of my mind, I knew my husband had been assassinated,”[1] revealed Mama Rebecca Nyandeng at an award ceremony by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) in Nairobi, Kenya, “where Garang was being honored [in 2007] with a posthumous Uhuru Award for his contribution to the liberation of Africa.”[2] Dr. John Garang, the former SPLM/A leader, was killed on Saturday, 30 July 2005, near the town of New Cush in Eastern Equatoria state, in a helicopter crash on his way back from Rwakitura, Mbarara district in western Uganda, to New Site, Eastern Equatoria state, South Sudan, after paying a two-day private visit to his longtime friend, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

Among those killed on-board the M1-172 presidential chopper were Dr. John Garang and his aides: Lt. Col. Ali Mayen Majok, Lt. Col. Amat Malwal, 1st Lt. Deng Majok Kuany, 1st Lt. Mayen Deng Mabior and 1st Lt. Oboki Obur Amaybek on the Sudanese side; on the Ugandan side were: Chief Pilots Col. Peter Nyakairu and Captain Paul Kiyimba; Flight Engineer Major Patrick Kiggundu; a Protocol Officer at the Presidential Palace, Samuel Andrew Bakowa; the helicopter’s Jet Officer Lt. Johnson Bahebya Munanura; a signaller with the Presidential Escort, Corporal Hassan Kiiza; and a flight hostess on the helicopter, Lillian Kabaije.

It is intriguing that when official news came through confirming the death of Garang, “there was a rush to blame the crash on bad weather and to rule out any act of sabotage or foul play.”[3] Both the SPLM/A leadership and the NCP government of President Bashir vehemently declared, “The crash was an accident brought about by poor weather conditions.”[4] A purported message from the SPLM read out on Sudan state television on August 1, 2005, stated, “The SPLM affirms that the cause of the helicopter crash was bad weather, and there were no other reasons behind it, so as to avert the rumours which have been circulating since the announcement of the incident. The SPLM affirms that the crash occurred due to bad weather.”[5] On their part, a communiqué from the office of President Bashir asserted that the helicopter “crashed after hitting the Imatong mountain range in southern Sudan because of visibility problems.”[6]

To some South Sudanese people, the impulsiveness on the side of the SPLM leadership and Khartoum authorities to preemptively rule out foul play and blame bad weather conditions for the plane crash might appear like a big conspiracy to sacrifice the truth on the altar of maintaining law and order in the wake of the massive rioting, death and destruction across the nation after the confirmation of Garang’s death.

Nonetheless, this initial concerted attempt to blame poor weather conditions and human error for Garang’s death was not only limited to the SPLM and the Khartoum government; other world dignitaries also joined in the fray. Calling for calm, the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that “all indications as of now seem to indicate it was an accident.”[7] Similarly, on August 1, 2005, the former chief mediator during the Sudan’s peace negotiations leading to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Kenya, Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, said, “I totally disregard that claim of foul play completely because the area he was flying into was an area he controlled.”[8] Even Garang’s widow, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng Chol, “ruled out foul-play, saying her husband, like the biblical Moses, had fulfilled his mission and his time to move on had come.”[9]

However, in spite of these spirited attempts to reassure the public that the plane crash was caused by bad weather and pilot error, not a political assassination, “spontaneous and massive riots broke out in Khartoum and in several towns in the South and the North from people who suspected foul play on the part of the national authorities or were simply venting their frustration and despair.”[10] Already by then, rumors had begun circulating that Garang had not died in an accident but had been politically assassinated by Khartoum. Angry Southerners shouting “murderers, murderers” against the Arabs began targeting Arab traders, destroying and burning their shops and homes. By 3 August 2005, about 135 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the ensuing street battle infiltrated by armed policemen responding to frantic calls of fanatic Muslim leaders using loudspeakers in mosques.

As the week progressed and the devastation of the massive riots across the country sank in, the official narrative within the SPLM began to be tinged with the hint of suspicion that Garang might have been a victim of a political assassination. Former close aides to Garang—Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Nhial Deng, Aleu Ayieny and Yasser Arman—led the call for an international investigation into the plane crash that killed their leader. As early as August 1, 2005, Deng Alor Kuol had told the United Press International news agency, “The SPLM could not rule out any possibility and was therefore seeking an investigation.”[11] On August 3, 2005, Pagan Amum Okiech was quoted by the Sudan Vision newspaper as saying that “the SPLM hoped that the United Nations, Uganda, Kenya, the United States and Britain would take part in the investigations.”[12]

Consequently, “the SPLM under intense pressure from its followers called for an international investigation into the helicopter crash.”[13] “All options are open and cannot be ruled out,”[14] Kiir told the international media. Left with little choice, the Khartoum government “backed down and announced that an inquiry would be made into the cause of Garang’s death.”[15]

  1. International Report on the Plane Crash that Killed Dr. John Garang

Thereafter, the investigation committee led by Justice Abel Alier Kwai included the United States, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and the SPLM authorities. The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the SPLM sent two members each; the Khartoum government sent five, while Kenya sent only one. The Ugandan government whose chopper killed Garang had several members including former army commander Maj. Gen. James Kazini; the head of the Air Force, Col. Sam Turyagenda and a civil aviation expert from the CAA in Entebbe. President Museveni also appointed extra members—Works Minister John Nasasira, Minister for the Presidency Beatrice Wabudeya, and Minister for Internal Affairs Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda—purposely to “oversee Uganda’s interests in the investigation.”[16]

After the formation of the probe team to investigate and reveal the exact cause of the plane crash, “peace loving people and Southern Sudanese in particular were very anxiously waiting to know the actual truth behind the death of their Leader, and to put an end to their internal pain.”[17] However, even before the final report came out, the then Sudan’s Foreign Minister Lam Akol, during a visit to Qatar on 13 February 2005, told the Arab media that, “The investigations are still subject to secrecy, but the commission of inquiry has completely ruled out the hypothesis of a plot to kill John Garang.”[18] When the “International Report on the Plane Crash that Killed the SPLM Leader” was eventually released in 2006, after a grueling nine months of anxious waiting, it basically claimed that the plane crash was purely due to a combination of human error and bad weather. According to the joint Ugandan-Sudanese investigative report, the plane crash was a tragic accident, “caused by the inexperience of the pilots and their inability to cope with the weather conditions at the time.”[19]

What exactly led the commission of inquiry to conclude that the plane crash was occasioned by turbulent weather and pilot error, and not political sabotage? This puzzling conclusion was predicated on the simple conjecture that “there were no external factors at play when the chopper crashed.”[20] And how did the panel of international investigators discern that there were no “external factors” involved in Garang’s death? Well, in most plane accidents such as the one involving Museveni’s M1-172 chopper, the only plane devices that do survive the violent crash are the Crash-Survivable Memory Units (CSMUs) of the Flight Data Recorders (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVR)—collectively known as “the black box” in popular jargon. These black boxes, particularly the FDR, are the equipment that records the performance and the condition of the aircraft in flight: weather, time, pressure, altitude, airspeed, vertical acceleration, fuel flow, rudder-pedal position, magnetic heading, horizontal stabilizer and control-wheel position. When the international investigators and Russian experts analyzed the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of President Museveni’s MI-172 chopper in Moscow, they discovered that the FDR was simply “blank” with nine hours of the would-be data mysteriously missing. Apparently, “either it was faulty or someone forgot to reset it,”[21] concluded the final report.

On the other hand, the retrieved conversation from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) between Garang and the plane crew “indicated that [he] was disturbed and requested assurance from the pilot about the fate of the flight. He was reassured, yet knew that the crew was facing problems with the navigation. Based on the retrieved conversation, the panel concluded that there was no external factor that contributed to the crash of the chopper.”[22] According to the report, “The CVR retrieved conversation relieved the apprehensive investigation teams from Uganda and Sudan, as there was no evidence of foul play,”[23] as if the prime motive of the international probe had been to “clear the two countries from the conspiracy of murdering John Garang.”[24] More than anything else, this was the entire basis for finding that the plane crash was due to bad weather and pilot error. It was odd that none of the investigators bothered to delve into and explain why the whole nine hours of the FDR data was mysteriously missing or, more appropriately, if this “blank” FDR data was indicative of a hidden conspiracy to murder Garang. In fact, according to Kazan Helicopters, the Russian manufacturers of Museveni’s MI-172 helicopter in Moscow, “these clues only pave way for the main investigations…The real investigation will now start. They must find out why the aircraft did not perform the way it was supposed to under those circumstances. Why did the FDR not work?”[25]

Despite these glaring discrepancies in the findings of the commission into the tragic plane crash, the controversial conclusion of the 2006 final report was positively received and enthusiastically backed not just by Khartoum and Kampala but also by high profile international figures, among them Garang’s former close associates. According to Andrew Natsios, a longtime friend of Garang and of the South Sudanese people during their long struggle against the oppressive regimes in Khartoum, the team of international investigators that included Americans “…found no evidence of an attack on the helicopter or any tampering with its guidance system, concluding that the accident was caused by pilot error.”[26] “As U.S. special envoy,” writes Natsios in his 2012 book, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know, “I requested a detailed briefing from the Federal Aviation Commission inspector who had been assigned to the team of experts, a man [with] twenty-eight years of experience [in] investigating aircraft crashes. He told me that there was no evidence of foul play and that the evidence produced by the investigation demonstrated pilot error.”[27]

John Ryle, the co-founder and executive director of the Rift Valley Institute, who spent most of his time in the SPLM controlled areas during the war for independence, also believed that “there is little reason to suspect foul play” precisely because “…the crash in which Garang died was almost certainly an accident: he was flying in a rainstorm over territory controlled by his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, in the personal helicopter of his long-time ally, Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president…”[28] Even President Museveni, who had initially been very skeptical about the “bad weather conditions” theory, was seemingly taken in by the conclusion of the final report. “Sources in Kampala said the investigation team briefed President Museveni about the contents of the black boxes on Monday. The President reportedly looked relieved on learning that it might have been no more than an accident.”[29]

According to the AFP news agency, the UN special envoy to the Sudan, Jan Pronk, “told reporters at Juba airport on Saturday that all the evidence collected from the crash site so far suggested the helicopter had gone down accidentally.”[30] Ambassador Pronk said: “There is no reason to assume anything else other than an accident happened…It was a tragic accumulation of facts — bad weather, darkness and the pilot possibly did not know the terrain.”[31] The Nigerian-owned National Insurance Corporation Ltd which had insured the plane presented a check worth $3.4 million to the Ugandan government as compensation for the destroyed presidential helicopter. “An insurer will not pay if he has doubts as to the nature of the accident,”[32] National Insurance Corporation Managing Director Bola Ososamya said. “We have conducted our own investigation and are entirely satisfied that the crash was an accident.”[33]

Yet, if one carefully scrutinizes the circumstances surrounding the plane crash, there are valid grounds to suppose that the contentious conclusion of the 2006 final report into Garang’s mysterious death might have been farfetched. Curiously enough, President Museveni was the first person to cast doubt on the official theory of bad weather and human error. On 5 August 2005, the Ugandan president shocked South Sudanese mourners in Yei when he publicly declared that he was not ruling anything out yet because there could have been external factors in the death of his longtime friend and comrade, Garang: “Some people say accident, it may be an accident, it may be something else. The helicopter was very well equipped, this was my helicopter the one I am flying all the time; I am not ruling anything out. Either the pilot panicked… either there was some side wind or the instruments failed or there was an external factor.”[34] Then in 2007, barely a year after the report was released, Garang’s widow, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, finally revealed that she had all along believed that her husband was a target of a well-organized political assassination. “When my husband died, I did not come out openly and say he was killed because I knew the consequences. At the back of my mind, I knew my husband had been assassinated.”[35] Within that statement in Nairobi, Kenya, Madam Nyandeng had added that although she knew who killed her husband, she had opted to keep “it secret because she wanted to preserve [the] unity of Southerners.”[36]

Even within the SPLM leadership, there was no consensus whatsoever on the conclusion of the 2006 final report. When the report came out, the SPLM leadership neither endorsed nor rejected the conclusion of the investigators, at least officially. In his 2008 exclusive interview with the Reuters news agency, two years after the report’s official release, GOSS Vice President Riek Machar disclosed that “many top officials in the party believed their former leader had been murdered…When we look at such a situation it may be best for us to reopen the investigation so that once and for all we put it to rest…We do not want anything connected to Dr. John Garang to divide our party.”[37] Actually, in 2006, a large section of the top SPLM leadership led by Pagan Amum, Deng Alor Kuol, and Aleu Ayieny Aleu (a senior SPLM member who was part of the investigation team but disagreed with its findings) had publicly expressed serious doubts about the report’s credibility.

  1. Why the South Sudanese are very Skeptical about the Final Report

There are various reasons for entertaining such a level of skepticism towards the conclusion of the 240-page joint Ugandan-Sudanese final report into the death of Dr. John Garang. Firstly, let’s start with the pilots themselves. The ill-fated chopper that killed Garang was President Museveni’s presidential helicopter and was piloted by the highly experienced pilots Col. Peter Nyakairu and Capt. Paul Kiyimba, who had flown it for the previous eight years. Out of all the pilots in Uganda, it was these two who were entrusted with the life of President Museveni all that time. For the joint Ugandan-Sudanese report to claim that the plane crash was caused by the inexperience of the pilots is to blatantly fly in the face of this indubitable truth. “It is incredible to suggest that the pilots somehow became inexperienced and unaware of their route, and could not cope with the situation only on this flight, when they had been flying the same aircraft for eight years before its recent overhaul!”[38]

The second pressing issue is the question of whether President Museveni endangered the lives of Garang and his colleagues by putting them on a junky helicopter, as his critics have maintained, or on the presidential chopper, which had just been overhauled and upgraded, and was “healthy and well-equipped” as Museveni had asserted in Yei in South Sudan on 5 August 2005. The Russian manufacturer of the plane later corroborated his assertion. Essentially, some observers have claimed that Garang was put on a junky helicopter that was flying blind at night in poor weather conditions in terrain that was unfamiliar to the pilots. Yet this is disputed by the testimonies of Mr. Rudolf Temurazov, the then Russian Director for Interstate Aviation Committee, and of President Museveni of Uganda who owned the chopper. According to Mr. Rudolf, the presidential chopper was in “good health” having been recently overhauled and tested for flight.

While he was in Yei, President Museveni independently confirmed this view, declaring that the helicopter was a state-of-the-art machine:

“The helicopter was a recently overhauled executive helicopter that has served us well for the last eight years. In fact, recently, some of the instruments were upgraded. It was very well-equipped with the ability to show the pilots the altitude using both radio altimeter that shows you how far you are from the ground as well as a Barometer altimeter that shows you how high you are from sea level; a weather radar that shows you bad clouds ahead as well as mountain ranges up to 100 kms away; Advanced Moving Map System (AMMS) that shows you where you are at any particular time and the terrain features such as mountains; a powerful floodlight system to avoid hitting trees and other landing site obstacles; and audio warning in case you are approaching a mountain ahead. The helicopter was also wired against lightning strikes, according to the manufacturers. It could, therefore, fly both at night and during the day, according to the pilots although it is not our policy to fly in mountain areas at night or during low visibility weather.”[39]

The 2006 joint report has claimed that the crash was occasioned by the inability of the pilots “to cope with the weather conditions at the time.”[40] And indeed, poor weather conditions were consistently cited in the aftermath of the plane crash. The first reports of the missing plane by the Sudan state TV announced that Garang’s plane “…went missing Sunday in bad weather on its way back from Uganda…Contact with his plane has been lost since 6:30 p.m. because of bad weather.”[41] In his first interview with the Associated Press on that Sunday, the Ugandan army spokesman Capt. Dennis Musitwa said that the Ugandan government did not know the whereabouts of the plane, but “what we know is that the aircraft had weather problems and crash-landed.”[42]

Then on that Monday, a press statement from the office of President Museveni claimed, “Garang’s aircraft had attempted to land in the New Kush region of southern Sudan but aborted the landing because of bad weather…”[43] Even the Associated Press said, “Weather reports showed rain in the area.”[44] In a televised speech confirming the death of Garang, President Bashir announced, “The helicopter slammed into a mountain due to bad weather conditions before communications were lost.”[45] In a follow-up press release from his office, Bashir later added: “It has now been confirmed that the plane crashed after it hit a mountain range in southern Sudan because of poor visibility and this resulted in the death of Dr. John Garang De Mabior, six of his colleagues and seven other crew members of the Ugandan presidential plane”[46]

However, how could such a state-of-the-art presidential chopper that had been overhauled and upgraded with a radio altimeter, barometer altimeter, weather radar, powerful flood light, audio warning and advanced moving map system have crashed into the Imatong mountain range? That is, how was it possible that a chopper well equipped with modern gadgets that could see and detect “mountain ranges up to 100 KMS away”[47] could have flown blindly into a mountain? “From the way President Museveni described the Ugandan helicopter carrying Garang on that fateful day, there was almost no possibility of an accident under nearly every circumstance…If there were bad weather in the area that the helicopter was approaching, this would have been detected and reported long before the aircraft arrived in that foul weather area.”[48]

Nonetheless, there is only one plausible reason as to why the Russian-built M1-172 chopper might have crashed that evening of Saturday, 30 July 2005. From the CVR retrieved conversations between Garang and the plane crew, “Garang was more concerned and worried and knew that crew was facing problems in navigation, and felt that there was something wrong with the plane, and that was certain in his request to the pilot that if they would not be able to land safely at New Site, they could turn back and fly to Gulu or Soroti for the night! Pilot Peter Nyakairu assured that, they shall land safely and if not he shall let Garang know!”[49] Immediately thereafter, the aircraft crashed, killing everyone on-board. Thus, it was evidently clear that Garang’s chopper had been flying blind at night in poor weather conditions precisely because all the modern sophisticated navigation instruments—the advanced moving map system (AMMS) for locating the position of mountains, the radio altimeter and barometric altimeter for measuring altitude, and the weather radar and audio warning system for detecting bad clouds and mountain ranges 100kms away—which were supposed to allow the aircraft to withstand most turbulent weather conditions (as stated by President Museveni) were not functioning according to their installation.

There are two main reasons “why the aircraft did not perform the way it was supposed to under those circumstances”[50] and particularly why the FDR did not work according to its installation: either someone deliberately tampered with the on-board instruments before or during the flight, or Garang was intentionally placed on a junky plane, as alleged by some critics of President Museveni. The other plausible alternative theory is that the aircraft that killed Garang and the one described by President Museveni were different planes altogether—perhaps Garang was given another plane during the refueling stopover at Entebbe airport. Of course, there was absolutely “no logic to the assertion that an experienced professional (and Museveni’s personal pilot) like Peter Nyakairu would risk his life as well as the lives of his crew members and VIP guests by not applying on-board instruments, when he knew that they were flying at night in bad weather conditions…”[51]

  1. Glaring Anomalies in the Death of Dr. John Garang

There are a number of conspicuous, well-documented inconsistencies in the tragic death of Garang. The first eye-catching anomaly was the surreptitious meeting between Garang, President Museveni and the three western diplomats—the American, British, and Dutch ambassadors—at Rwakitura, western Uganda, between July 29 and July 30, 2005. The three western diplomats were the US Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, the Dutch Ambassador Joke Brandt and Britain’s High Commissioner Francois Gordon. Curiously, Ambassador Jimmy Kolker is a fellow of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship—the same scholarship grant that enabled Garang to pursue his studies in the USA and later at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1970. Yet, it is not even clear what exactly the pressing agenda was between Garang, Museveni and the three western diplomats.

According to President Museveni, Garang had phoned him on Thursday, 28 July 2005, “and said he wanted to talk to me about some very important things about his people, Africa and beyond.”[52] One of Garang’s closest advisors reportedly said that “there had been some plans for [Garang] to visit the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni”[53] and then to proceed “to Nairobi to thank the Kenyan government for its role in the peace talks”[54] that led to the signing of the CPA in 2005. After the death of Garang, Museveni revealed that they had “discussed regional security, and the new scenario in Sudan after the CPA that the SPLM and Khartoum signed in Naivasha”[55] in January 2005. Even after two days of meeting, Museveni confessed, “nothing conclusive was agreed [to] because Army Chief Lt. Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, who was busy, needed to be part of the talks.”[56]

While Garang was invited to Paris for a follow-up consultative meeting with the donors after the Davos Conference, so important and urgent was Garang’s meeting with Museveni that he delegated Commander Salva Kiir to the conference instead and went to Uganda the following day. But if the meeting with Museveni was so crucial, why was Garang not accompanied by top SPLM/A commanders like Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Nhial Deng, Bior Ajang Duot, Malual Majok etc. who usually escorted him on international trips? What were the American, British and Dutch ambassadors doing with Garang and Museveni? Why was their meeting so confidential that no media was invited and no press statement was released afterwards?

There are wild allegations that “Garang argued with Museveni and the Western ambassadors over oil and mineral exploration rights in his southern Sudan area, as well as Sudan in general. Garang was no pushover for Museveni and the American, British, and Dutch envoys. With a Ph.D. in economics, Garang understood the worth of Sudan’s natural resources and what was equitable for his people…Having that kind of knowledge may have earned him a death sentence.”[57]

The second clear inconsistency was the hard-to-ignore absence of President Museveni during Garang’s funeral in Juba on the 6th of August 2005. As the closest friend and comrade of Garang in particular, and of the SPLM/A and South Sudanese people in general, Museveni should have been the first leader to arrive to console the widow and mourn with the grief-stricken people of South Sudan. Instead, he disappeared. “The Ugandan media explained away Museveni’s absence from public view for two days after Garang’s death as him ‘mourning’ and later a government spokesman said Museveni had been ‘devastated’ by the news of Garang’s death.”[58]

This curious situation makes one wonder if there had been something amiss between Garang and Museveni just before the plane crash. For example, the reported deportment of Garang when he arrived at Entebbe International Airport en route to Rwakitura was tellingly queer:

“Garang was usually carefree, jovial, and open with Ugandan journalists. He always spoke his mind with them and all interviews were usually informal affairs. But on the day he landed at Entebbe International Airport en route to western Uganda to meet Museveni, July 29, he was not his usual relaxed self. Having just recently witnessed the signing of the Sudan peace accord and been sworn-in as First Vice President, Garang was as effusive and humorous as always when he was met by the Ugandan vice president, Dr. Gilbert Bukenya, at the airport. Yet when a journalist at the airport from the government newspaper, the New Vision, asked him what he was going to discuss with Museveni, Garang was guarded: ‘I am going to talk with Museveni not you,’ was his reply, uncharacteristically brief and cool for a man who always joked with Ugandan reporters. The usually easy-going Garang could have brushed off the reporter’s question with a general statement about having come to Uganda to hold bilateral talks with Museveni. On this occasion Garang could not even bring himself to speak lightly about his trip to Uganda.”[59]

Similarly, the picture taken of Garang and Museveni when Garang arrived at Rwakitura appeared strikingly “bizarre, particularly when he was shaking hands with President Museveni.”[60] Apparently, there was a noticeable distance between the two long-time friends and comrades as the welcoming posturing did not “display the distinctiveness and intimacy of friendship; there was no ecstasy or smiles, the surrounding circumstances and environment looked weird.”[61] The two close friends were expected “to be in an absolute pleasant state, since it was the first meeting”[62] after Garang “assumed the post of First Vice President of the Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan.”[63]

For all their comradeship over those tumultuous years, people “had hoped to see the two men at the peak of their happiness but not as strangers.”[64] It has even been claimed that “a senior SPLA official whom Garang spoke to on phone during the night he spent at Museveni’s home said Garang had noted that during their talks, Museveni was uncomfortable and could not look Garang in the eye.”[65] This is conjecture, however, for all that we know, at least officially, there was no issue whatsoever either between Garang and Museveni or between the SPLM/A and government of Uganda.

The third anomaly in the death of Garang was the baffling decision by the SPLM/A leadership, possibly in collusion with both Kampala and Khartoum, to withhold the news of Garang’s demise from his widow, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, and the whole country, for over 24 hours after his death. First and foremost, it is not even clear who discovered the wreckage of Garang’s plane in South Sudan. On the one hand, a diplomatic source told the Reuters news agency that the “wreckage is in southern Sudan. It was found by local people. That is what we are hearing from the SPLM.”[66] On the other hand, the Kenyan news network, KTN TV, reported that “the soldiers eventually came across the wreckage of the helicopter at 2:00 p.m.”[67] on Sunday, 31 July 2005, “but decided not to tell Garang’s wife until 5:00 p.m. the next day,”[68] on Monday, 1 August 2005.

Possibly, local people really did find the wreckage of the plane and then alert the SPLM/A authorities. Reportedly, Commander Atem Aguang Atem was in charge of the SPLA commandos who first arrived at the scene of the plane crash at 2pm on Sunday. But it remains unexplained why it was necessary on the part of the SPLM/A leadership, Uganda and Khartoum to keep Garang’s widow, and the entire country, in the dark for over 24 hours after the discovery of the wreckage. Unfortunately, this oddity has given birth to a conspiracy theory that someone somewhere was taking his time, cleaning up the mess at the scene, before inviting the public and international media to the crash site.

The fourth discrepancy was the apparent contradiction of the number plates for the helicopter that killed Garang. Unverified report claimed, “Moscow-based experts revealed the crashed helicopter’s specifications did not match those of Museveni’s private helicopter.”[69] At one point, a media report said that the Russian-built M1-172 Chopper that “killed Garang was carrying registration number 605 and the other from the presidential rotor burp is 8-1930-0008221-5387.”[70] Furthermore, Sudan’s former minister of state for the interior Aleu Ayieny Aleu, in his exclusive interview with the Akhbar al-Youm newspaper in Khartoum, published on 14 August 2005, claimed, “Garang did not die in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s personal helicopter but in a military helicopter Garang boarded at Entebbe airport. [His] switch to the military chopper was reportedly made at the last minute.”[71]

Aleu, who was a member of the international team that investigated the plane crash, further “provided technical details to support his claim of an assassination and cover-up. He said the machine numbers of the downed chopper were not compatible with the presidential chopper number and that ‘number AF-605 differs from the presidential number’s main rotor burp 8-1930-000821-5387.’ Aleu also stated the pilot’s assistant, according to the aircraft’s flight recorder, appeared unsure of the plane’s details. ‘Sometimes he said UK747 [instead of UK757]. The other plane was holding number ATCO-AF-605118:2. The plane that had crashed does not hold number 096112 (1997 Russian 02/07/05)’.”[72]

Therefore, for the vast majority of South Sudanese people still traumatized by the mysterious death of Garang, the recurrent question is: why were there different numbers for the same chopper? It is possible that “the true helicopter in question could be different from what was actually in use for the Ugandan president. Did Entebbe give Capt. Peter a helicopter that [was then] detonated? If yes who did it?”[73] If no, then why were there two contradicting numbers reported for the same aircraft?

The fifth anomaly was the obvious absence of any picture of the downed helicopter despite the media frenzy following the official confirmation of Garang’s death. “If there was any story that could pass for the African story of the year for the first half of 2005, the death of Garang would surely be it.”[74] The disappearance of his plane and subsequent confirmation of his death were widely covered by all international media such as the BBC, CNN, Associated Press (AP), Reuters, United Press International (UPI), Radio France International (RFI), the Voice of America (VOA), the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Agency France Presse (AFP) and Xinhua of China. ”And yet, none of these major world news agencies and companies reported on, published, or provided an artist’s impression of the helicopter in its wrecked state during the one week since the crash.”[75]

However, given the massive rioting in the aftermath of Garang’s death, “the most important antidote to public unrest would have been for the authorities to publish a photograph of the helicopter as a way of demonstrating that, indeed, Garang had been killed in an accident. Nothing of the sort happened. Neither the Ugandan government who owned the doomed helicopter nor the Sudanese government and the SPLM made a call for the publication of the photographs to allay their people’s anxieties and suspicions.”[76] Ten years later, neither the photographs of the plane that killed Garang nor the wreckage of the aircraft have been released by Khartoum, Kampala or Juba. Why? What is behind all these secrecy concerning the picture of M1-172 presidential chopper?

The sixth discrepancy was the conflicting route allegedly taken by the plane after taking off from Entebbe to Newsite. According to radar transcripts accessed by the Uganda’s Weekly Observer newspaper, the last three flights of the ill-fated M1-172 presidential chopper, registration AF-605, were: Entebbe – Rwakitura, when Garang was taken to Museveni’s ranch at Rwakitura for the meeting; Rwakitura–Entebbe, when Garang returned to Entebbe for a refueling stopover, and Entebbe–Gulu, when Garang was supposedly going back to his residence in Newsite, South Sudan. According to the transcript from the air traffic tower, Garang’s plane lifted off from Entebbe at exactly 5:00 pm and its estimated arrival time in Gulu was 6:15p m. “According to information available to The Weekly Observer, the air traffic control lost radar contact with the presidential chopper 24 minutes after takeoff.”[77] There are two mysteries here: the plane that was supposed to be taking Garang from Entebbe to Newsite was taking him to Gulu instead; and then it lost radar contact with air traffic control just few minutes after taking off, not to be found again until it lay in pieces.

Why did the transcript records have Garang’s plane going from Entebbe to Gulu instead of from Entebbe to Newsite in South Sudan as it was supposed to? What was Garang going to do in Gulu at 6: 00 pm on his way to Newsite? Why did the plane lose radar contact barely after taking off? When one Ugandan Air Force officer was asked, “why the pilot had told air traffic control at Entebbe that he was flying to Gulu when his destination was actually New Site,”[78] he responded that “this may initially have been deliberate as the pilot possibly wanted to conceal the real destination of his VIP passenger for security purposes…When we are flying VIPs, we normally have codes for our destination. So for us Gulu meant New Site in Southern Sudan.”[79] Seemingly, Gulu was a code word for Newsite, and all the secrecy was arranged for the protection of Garang, the VIP. Or not.

But what is apparent is that “emergency communication between security and the Control Centre at the Tower in Entebbe in fact indicates that some of the officers in charge of coordinating flights actually believed the chopper was destined for Gulu.”[80] Interestingly, the first people to detect that Garang’s plane was missing were the UPDF soldiers in Gulu who alerted the control center officials in Entebbe when they “called asking about its whereabouts”[81] after the helicopter failed to arrive in Gulu within its estimated timeframe. In a crisis meeting shortly after the confirmation of Garang’s death, the civil aviation authority officials reportedly told President Museveni that “security agencies often disregard their professional advice or even file wrong flight plans for military-related aircraft.”[82]

The seventh anomaly was how Garang’s plane could have been given a green light to depart for Newsite well after 5: 00 pm in poor weather conditions, which is strictly against official policy. In his address to mourners in Yei, Museveni had stated that although the presidential chopper could “fly both at night and during the day,”[83] it was not their “policy to fly in mountain areas at night or during low visibility weather.”[84] And according to the Uganda’s civil aviation authority no plane(s), including of course helicopters, are allowed to leave from Entebbe after 5:00 pm for a period of more than one hour.

The mystery therefore is how the pilot or/and the civil aviation authority could have flaunted this official rule. Could the explanation be that someone was deliberately lying to the civil aviation authority about the plane going to Gulu in order to get clearance for taking off and then just disappear from radar 24 minutes later in an effort to avoid being tracked? Or “perhaps someone prevailed upon the aviation authority to twist the rule, but intellect has it that Garang wasn’t an easy man to put his life and that of his men at risk. He couldn’t have guided a serious guerrilla liberation war against powerful Khartoum, if he were as pliable as others would want us to believe him differently in death. He [must have been] assured of the reliability of the plane, and was [therefore] confident that he [would] reach”[85] his destination.

The eighth discrepancy was that Garang’s cellphone was apparently able to receive calls long after the aircraft had crashed and burnt up. According to Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, she had talked with one of Garang’s bodyguards in Entebbe 15 minutes before the chopper took off for Newsite. Immediately after that phone call, Madam Nyandeng proceeded to the small airstrip in Newsite to wait for the arrival of her husband’s plane. When the plane did not arrive on time, she became worried and went back to the house to make a telephone call to Garang’s satellite phone. “His telephone rang until it went back to the voicemail and I was really surprised because it had never happened that his telephone goes to the voicemail because he is a man of communication,”[86] Nyandeng said.

This is strange because Garang’s phone was already supposed to have been destroyed in the violent plane crash. According to the eyewitness account of the crash scene, the aircraft “hit the mountain, exploded and ploughed down the forested mountainside. It burnt and uprooted the entire hillside of trees, similar to a grader clearing ground for new construction, and those who watched a recording of the crash site tell of charred wreckage and debris scattered over a wide area on the mountainside and in the valleys below.”[87] If Garang’s plane was reduced to charred wreckage, “then the delicate cell phones would have been among the first things on-board to be wrecked. The frantic calls would not have been going to the voicemail service at all since the phone would have been totally destroyed both by the rain encountered during the storm and the searing fire from the burning wreckage.”[88]

The ninth inconsistency was the fact that while the plane was charred, the bodies of the passenger were identifiable. A certain SPLA advisor called David, who was among those who viewed the recording of the crash site, told the Associated Press by phone that “the crash was violent and the wreckage was charred but the remains are identifiable.”[89] This is an anomaly because, in a crash violent enough to reduce the entire plane to “charred wreckage”, the remains would have been unidentifiable since they would have been charred beyond recognition. The fact that the remains could still be identified should have rung alarm bells in the ears of the international investigators.

If indeed Garang’s phone was still operational after the plane crash, it could be that the passengers were murdered on the ground and then burnt to conceal the crime. This could be the only reason why Garang’s satellite phone was not destroyed and why the passengers’ remains were recognizable. Nonetheless, if they were deliberately burned to conceal the crime, why then were they not burned enough to make them unidentifiable? It would have been easy to do.

Again, this brings us back to the question of the long period of time (over 24 hours) it took the authorities to inform the widow of Garang of his demise. This isn’t so much about pointing accusing fingers at any entity as it is about asking the kind of questions that should have been explored by the international commission of inquiry investigating the cause of the crash.

The tenth anomaly was “the conflicting reports that the rescuers recovered three extra bodies from the crash site.”[90] This was the media speculation that “there might have been extra persons who might have sneaked into the chopper while the chopper refueled in Entebbe airport.”[91] And for sure, after the recovery of the dead bodies from the charred wreckage, the United Nations (UN), through its spokeswoman in Khartoum, Radhia Achouri, who retired in 2008, had released a statement demonstrating, “The figures that we have, and these are the last figures I saw, we are talking about 17.”[92] Additionally, “a member of the southern Sudanese leadership council had earlier also said 17 bodies had been recovered” from the charred wreckage.”[93]

As one South Sudanese writers, Watts Nyirigwa, explained in 2006, “It was probable that the assassins might have sneaked into the chopper and jeopardized the installed equipment! And that was evident, because why did the aircraft, the presidential plane, not perform the way it was supposed to under those circumstances, and why did the FDR not work, and why was it blank? It was said that ‘someone forgot to reset it.’ That is incredible and ridiculous. I do not believe that the crew would risk their lives in such a suicidal manner unless they were all involved in the assassination of John Garang.”[94]

While the investigation committee maintained that there were 13 bodies from the wreckage, Col. Nyakairu confirmed to the air traffic control officials in Entebbe that there were “14 people on board and fuel for four hours.”[95] According to the Ugandan authorities, “the fact that the pilot twice confirmed that he had 14 people on board casts doubt on earlier speculative media reports, quoting some UN sources in Khartoum, that rescuers recovered three extra bodies from the crash site. This report, when it came out, implied that perhaps assassins hidden on the chopper had assassinated Garang.”[96]

The last anomaly, the eleventh, was that the FDR was mysteriously “blank”. Why didn’t the navigation machines on the helicopter function according to their installation? There are two plausible reasons for the failure of the on-board equipment: either the plane was junky or someone sabotaged the installations. What is clear though is that while the Ugandan authorities received the chopper from the Kazan manufacturers on 21 July 2005, “it has been grounded till Garang flew it on July 29, 2005 to meet Museveni at his country home in Mbarara, and again on July 30, 2005 to meet his fate.”[97] Since its upgrading, the helicopter “had flown only for 20 hours and it was not tested enough for a long journey and in various circumstances to guarantee its merit, and this was its first flight during the night and in grave weather conditions for such a long journey to New Site, which would be considered as the chopper’s testing trip!”[98]

This raised the critical question about the quality of Garang’s chopper that particular evening of July 30, 2005. Thus, in order to understand why the instruments didn’t perform to installed perfection, it is apt to establish whether “something went wrong during the recent overhaul of the chopper, which cost $ 2.5 million.”[99] The result of the preliminary investigation had indicated that the FDR was simply blank. It is interesting that the investigators simply refused to explore the third alternative: political sabotage. “The probe’s preliminary investigations showed that the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) was blank …everyone was trying to figure out what exactly went wrong: was it due to the weather conditions or human error or mechanical problems with the plane or instruments failure.”[100] In the final report by the commission of inquiry, the FDR was blank because “either it was faulty or someone forgot to reset it.”[101]

And according to Mr. Rudolf Temurazov, the director of technical security for the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, the FDR was destroyed in the violent plane crash. This is puzzling because if the bodies were identifiable, how could anyone suggest that the FDR was destroyed? Mr. Temurazov later contradicted himself when he claimed, “The crash did not appear to have been caused by any technical malfunction…with the helicopter itself.”[102] The missing FDR was designed to register technical data. In the absence of any data from the FDR, how could one conclude that there was no technical problem with the chopper itself?

Moreover, there is no evidence that the LRA or Al-Qaeda were involved in the plane crash. The investigative committee had ruled out “any possible terrorism act. It says there was no evidence to suggest there was a missile attack involved, or firearms attack from the ground or any kind of explosion before it hit the mountains.”[103] Of further interest is that at no particular stage during the flight did the pilots send a distress call back to Entebbe in the event the plane had experienced some mechanical problems or serious weather conditions.

  1. Who Killed Dr. John Garang?

Reflecting on his fate during the war for South Sudan’s independence, Garang told his soldiers: “I have been commanding the SPLA officers and men of various ranks in this war; many of them have paid the ultimate sacrifice. If my turn comes to pay the ultimate sacrifice, and indeed it comes, then be it. We are in this war to win or die for the national goals and objectives we believe in. I am just an officer; a commander-in-chief of a patriotic army and one officer just like many of you. If death comes my way I shall die like many of our compatriots who have already laid down their lives in this war.”[104] For the two decades that he led the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Garang was a marked man, wanted dead not just by Khartoum but also by many “Southern nationalists” with whom he had had fundamental ideological differences and who had repeatedly tried to engage him in a power struggle. Assuming that the plane crash was political sabotage and not a mere accident as the commission of inquiry have wanted the world to believe, who might have been responsible for the foul play that led to the death of Garang in Museveni’s M1-172 presidential helicopter on Saturday, 30 July 2005?

The first suspect could simply be poor weather conditions and human error, as concluded by the 2006 final report of the commission of inquiry into his death. Thus, Garang, the symbol of the South Sudanese liberation struggle, a leader to all and the hope for a brighter tomorrow, died in a tragic accident caused by a combination of bad weather conditions due to poor visibility and pilot error. However, could Garang have known about his death and wanting to minimize the effect by keeping key people from joining him in his fateful trip to Uganda? Did he really talk about “raan ace cuet e riongde”[105] in Kongor, 2005? Was that why he anointed Commander Salva Kiir in Rumbek, 27 July 2005, just three days before he died? What did that portend? How about the accounts of his bodyguards who described a troubled Garang who was unable to sleep just days before he left for Uganda? In a society were superstitions reign large and wide, these points are no mere speculations but have been taken and internalized as facts, in the absence of better explanations and in total rejection of the commission’s stated accounts of bad weather and pilot error. These conspiracy rumors have been in circulation since 2005. Future generations of South Sudanese will likely take these rather fantastic speculations as fact-based wisdom to anchor their history on.

The second suspect is the Northern hegemony in the security and military intelligence in Khartoum. Soon after the signing of the CPA, the hardliners within the ruling National Islamic Front (NIF) party began sidelining Vice President Osman Taha, accusing him of having sold out the Arab-Islamic North in the CPA; their attempt to “repair the damage”[106] might have led to the death of Garang. This Arab-Islamic political establishment who perceived the CPA as a sell-out of the Arab-Islamic North might have targeted Garang as a means of crippling the CPA and reestablishing the status quo of perpetually ruling the whole of Sudan in the paradigm of an Arab-Islamic state. Khartoum’s scheming, or hope, was that Garang’s death would irrevocably split the SPLM/A into two diametrically warring camps, which, “in the worst case scenario, [was] a south-south war.”[107] If the South were embroiled in a bloodbath, the North would likely have sat back and sniggered. The goal was to cut off the head of the snake and initiate a split within the SPLM to prove the point that Southerners were incapable of governing themselves; thus, precluding the conduct of the CPA-mandated referendum that would grant them an independent state.

The extremist wing of the NIF-led government might have further been prompted to action by the tumultuous welcome that Garang received on his arrival in Khartoum for the inauguration ceremony on the 8th of July 2005. The Arab-Islamic socio-political establishment might have felt immensely threatened when Garang “politically and intellectually challenged the narrow-minded definition of the identity of the Sudan as an Arab-Islamic nation.”[108] Indeed, in Garang, “a formidable personality who had distinguished himself both militarily and politically”[109] the Northern hegemony “shook at what would happen to their rule were Garang to have the opportunity to reshape the country because Garang could be no one’s errand boy. The enemies of hope had to act and act quickly before goodness broke out in a country that has been in conflict for most of its post-independence existence.”[110]

One speculation is that Khartoum’s prominent client, the Al-Qaeda, might have collaborated with the NIF government in the elimination of Garang. In fact, Osama Bin Laden had lived in Khartoum during the 1990s for several years and had a great following within the security and military intelligence of Khartoum. Just before leaving for Uganda, Garang had “said he would inform President Bashir of his travel plans, [but] his wife protested: she feared for his safety. Dr. John Garang insisted that, as First Vice President of the country, he could not just travel to a neighboring country without informing his colleagues in Khartoum.”[111] Possibly, Garang had overruled Madam Nyandeng and informed Bashir about his trip to Uganda. This would demonstrate that the extremist elements within the security and military intelligence in Khartoum knew well in advance about the private trip to Rwakitura in western Uganda.

Thus, Garang’s travel plans might have provided a perfect cover for the plot so as to avert any suspicion of Khartoum’s involvement. In fact, wild speculation had it that some high profile members of the NIF were “…shuttling between Kampala and Khartoum before, during and after…”[112] the tragic and mysterious death of Garang. Allegedly, some phones brought from Khartoum when Garang went there for inauguration could have been military gadgets containing explosives. Perhaps someone onboard had brought explosives: “This brings another theory that perhaps an explosion happened within the machine without affecting the passengers. Who then had planted the explosive?”[113] Perhaps the Al-Qaeda did it.

Above all, the most incriminating clue implicating hardliners in Khartoum in the death of Garang was the recent revelation by the Wikileaks dossier that Khartoum had colluded with Cairo in a joint plot to assassinate President Salva Kiir Mayaardit. On 17 June 2015, Wikileaks published thousands of Saudi Arabia diplomatic cables, including one official letter issued by former Saudi foreign affairs minister in Riyadh informing the royal palace about “a joint plot by the Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence to assassinate President Kiir.”[114] According to the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, Egypt’s intelligence apparatus had sent three assassins to the Garden City area in Khartoum with the aim to “formulate a joint plan with the Sudanese intelligence for the elimination and assassination of Kiir and some of his aides.”[115]

This is not the first time that Khartoum was implicated in such plots. In 1995, it was accused of an attempted assassination of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt during an AU meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On 28 July 1971, the Southern Sudanese leader, Joseph Garang, was executed in Khartoum after an attempted coup against President Nimeiri. And on 5 May 1968, one of the pioneers of the South Sudanese liberation struggle, William Deng Nhial, was assassinated in Cueibet County, Lakes State, during the 1968 general elections. With such a record, Khartoum could be considered as one of the prime suspects for the fateful July 2005 plane crash.

The third suspect is the Ugandan government which furnished the plane. According to Dr. John Akec, the current Vice Chancellor of Juba University, “the relationship between South Sudan and Uganda is similar to that between mankind and the ocean. The man depends on the ocean for fish and good things it treasures. But when the tide comes and the ocean rages, it takes away the very life it once sustained. In like manner, Uganda has been one of the countries we, the South Sudanese, run to in order to escape persecution at home. But Uganda is also the place where our leaders had been most susceptible to assassinations. For example, one of the founders of Anya Nya movement, Fr. Saturnino Ohure, a Catholic priest turned politician, was shot dead by a Ugandan soldier near Kitgum on January 22, 1967 as he was travelling in Uganda.”[116] On 19 December 2011, Gen. George Athor Deng, who had rebelled against the government of President Kiir, died under mysterious circumstances in Uganda. Given this tragic history, some South Sudanese suspect Uganda to have played a role in the untimely death of their leader.

First and foremost, the meeting between Garang and Museveni was held in secrecy, away from Kampala, the capital city. The agenda and resolutions of the meeting are not known. According to some unsubstantiated reports, there was a quarrel between the SPLM/A and the Ugandan army over the question of missing arms and ammunitions. Apparently, Garang, under intense pressure from top SPLA military commanders, had gone to see Museveni over the issue. This theory has been lent credence by Museveni’s statement that nothing conclusive was reached between him and Garang because the Ugandan minister for defense was not there and they had to wait for him, but Garang refused and left. One would imagine that if the two leaders had to wait for the defense minister there must have been security issues involved, not just politics. However, the fact that none of the top SPLA commanders went with Garang undercuts the theory. If indeed the meeting had something to do with arms shipments, it is incredible that Garang would have flown without some of his top aides, such as Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Nhial Deng, Bior Ajang, Pieng Deng, Oyai Deng Ajak, Isaac Mamur, etc.

Secondly, the plane given to Garang had been upgraded but not subsequently tested properly for flight; even Museveni had not used it since its renovation except once on the morning of July 30th before it took Garang to Entebbe. It had only been flown for about 20 hours since the 21 July 2005 overhaul, making the long flight to Newsite its maiden voyage. Arguably, the Ugandan government was criminally negligent for putting their guest on such a questionable plane notwithstanding its reported air-worthiness, which proved useless on the evening of July 30th. Judging from the cockpit voice recorder, Garang “was made to fly a superseded helicopter at night and in very bad weather conditions, as the plane has been grounded in the country for a week after its receipt from manufacturers on July 21st, 2005.”[117] Thus, “Museveni’s allegation that the aircraft was well equipped with modern instruments to withstand bad weather conditions is groundless, and cannot be justified, unless he was referring to the chopper before its renovation.”[118]

Thirdly, regarding the plausible involvement of Uganda in the plane crash, it has been said that some rogue elements sympathetic to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) within the Ugandan People Defense Forces (UPDF) might have shot down Garang’s chopper. Among the points Garang might have discussed with Museveni during their Rwakitura’s meeting was the continued threat of the LRA to both South Sudan and northern Uganda. During the war for independence, the SPLM/A and Uganda had always coordinated their security military and intelligence activities against the LRA that was backed by Khartoum. In fact, more than anything else, the unrelenting threat posed by the LRA against the Ugandan government was the cornerstone of the political alliance and military collaboration between Garang and Museveni. Therefore, the LRA had every reason to target and eliminate Garang given any chance. However, because of the tight security around Museveni’s helicopter, the LRA’s plot could only have been achieved with the conniving of the LRA elements within the UPDF.

Fourthly, there was a marked hesitancy of cooperation on the part of the Ugandan government during the investigation into the plane crash. This was evident when the lead American investigator, Denis Jones, “accused Uganda of subversion and obstructionism in [its] refusal to hand over the official press release, answer questions related to the number of instruments on the chopper, re-examine parts of the wreckage, the number and names of Ugandans and Russians who were involved with aircraft maintenance. It seems there was no cooperation and transparency on the maintenance contract, and it was not certain as to whether the probe team actually examined closely and critically the maintenance quality of both the Russians and Ugandan engineers, to assert as to whether the Ugandan engineers inspected the maintenance work done by Russians for quality assurance, and did they have the capacity to verify what the Russians had done?”[119]

Furthermore, there was a dispute between Sudan and Uganda particularly on the final wording of the investigative report, which compelled the Sudanese ambassador, Saraj Eddine Hamid, to accuse Uganda in October 2005 “of hindering the work of the investigation committee by choosing not to cooperate for ‘unknown reasons’.”[120] Uganda categorically denied both accusations. There was also the question of the whereabouts of the final report produced by an independent investigation team under the auspice of the American insurance firm, which had insured Garang’s life. In late August 2005, the insurance company sent its representatives to Uganda to “conduct the company’s own thorough investigations into the circumstances of Garang’s death before they could pay compensation to the Garang family.”[121] While the insurance firm ended up paying the full amount for Garang’s life insurance, the final report was never produced for public scrutiny. The Ugandan government should have requested the insurance firm to release their findings so as to allay the fears that there might have been an invisible hand that triggered the plane crash. The withholding of this final report has led some South Sudanese to wonder if the findings by the American insurance firm contradicted the conclusion of the joint Ugandan-Sudanese final report.

The fourth suspects are the disgruntled elements within the SPLM/A. This is the theory that the death of Garang implicated some rogue forces within the SPLM/A as well as “Southern nationalists” who were bitterly opposed to the New Sudan vision and particularly those who accused Garang of having killed their close relatives during the war for independence. Indeed, the plane crash came against a backdrop of simmering political and military rivalry within the movement. It is said that these anti-Garang forces might have joined up with, or were recruited by, external forces to eliminate Garang. The suspicion that some South Sudanese leaders might have been involved in the death of Garang was what prompted Mama Nyandeng to declare that although she knew who killed her husband, she had kept it secret because she wanted to preserve the unity of the South Sudanese people.[122] The implication here is that Garang was killed by disgruntled members of his own movement with or without the support of external forces.

In the words of Elijah Malok Aleng, these rogue elements within the SPLM were the “traitors who always felt overshadowed by the political and military might of Dr. John Garang. These are people who wanted to rule the South, but had no ability to lead the people during the terrible years of the armed struggle. They are the peacetime heroes who had to work to kill Dr. John Garang in the hope that the real enemy of the South would reward them by surrendering the leadership of the South to them once Dr. John Garang was dead and buried.”[123]

In fact, in some circles within the South Sudanese population, the problem bedeviling South Sudan was Garang and the panacea was to get rid of Garang precisely because:

“Dr. John Garang’s enemies wanted the world to believe that without him, Southern Sudan would be better governed under some of them and that the basic rights of the silenced majorities all over the Sudan would not only be protected, but that the CPA would be executed both in spirit and the letter. Little wonder that when Dr. John Garang died, some Southern ‘nationalist’ continued to vomit their political dirt on his ‘shoes’. There emerged large talk not just that without Dr. John Garang the unity of the South would be achieved and that the inter-South dialogue would result in an unconditional unity within the South, but also that those Southerners who were carrying arms were fighting Dr. John Garang as a person, and that now he is gone, all the militiamen would become a part of the patriotic South.

If this were the truth, then why do some militiamen continue carrying arms and fighting against the South? From whom is the South being defended? Since peace came to Southern Sudan as a result of the CPA, who is now threatening the South? Indeed, personalized hatred against Dr. John Garang in some limited quarters had always been intense and persistent. During the Nasir Rebellion, its leaders decided not only to kill him, but also to pierce his heart. In the last two years before his death, his enemies did declare that they would work to hire assassins to eliminate him, while others conspired with his real enemies arguing that it was only by eliminating him that the guns in the South would become silence[d] in the manner of Jonas Savimbi and UNITA rebels in Angola.

In fact, some of those who swore to eliminate Dr. John Garang are now well placed in the structures of the governments that were formed as a result of the CPA. Some of these people did not join and physically fight for the liberation of the peoples of the Marginalized Areas, as Dr. John Garang did for twenty-two years; some of them stayed away in foreign capitals hiding themselves from the perils of war, only to surface and get constitutional portfolios as a result of the CPA that was brought about by the nationalist struggle that was led by Dr. John Garang. And after Dr. John Garang brought honorable peace, they then conspired against him. Indeed, while the body of Dr. John Garang was being lowered into the grave, some of the traitors who wanted to see Dr. John Garang dead came very close to the grave just to make sure that indeed, Dr. John Garang was buried.”[124]

And then there appeared to be a determined effort in South Sudan to silence anyone who cast doubt on the final report into the death of Garang. For example, when Aleu Ayieny Aleu questioned the credibility of the official position that the plane was brought down by poor weather conditions and human error, he was kicked out of the national cabinet in Khartoum and evicted from the SPLM party. Aleu was one of the two SPLM representatives to the investigative committee that examined the cause of the plane crash. He accompanied the black box to Russia but came back more suspicious than ever before. “Now brethren, by just expressing a doubt on an anomaly does that require a punishment? Was Garang a burden to SPLM leaders and by him gone, everything would just be fine? This brings to mind that perhaps there could be people around here who are trying to protect their skin and if yes then we must be afraid!”[125]

The fifth suspects are the panoply of international wealth barons and security hawks that felt threatened or sidelined by Garang in the post CPA era. For one, there might have also been powerful international forces vying for oil contracts in South Sudan who could have eliminated Garang if he had hesitated to do their biddings. According to this theory, Garang was “a target of the international wealth barons, because he did not give in to external economic pressures that wanted to exploit the resources of Southern Sudan.”[126] Others claimed that the American CIA “was involved in the slaying of Garang because America doesn’t want any strong leader like Garang to emerge with a vision of uniting the Great Lakes Region, which would pose a great threat to American interest in the region.”[127] The third theory holds that Garang was a victim of his own fast rising political stardom—that is, “some African leaders saw Garang as a threat because of his popularity and revolutionary ideas that made him one of the greatest African thinkers Africa has ever had, particularly in the Great Lakes Region.”[128]

The final suspect in the death of Garang is a joint conspiracy by domestic and foreign foes colluding to eliminate him. The 2004 rivalry between Garang and Salva Kiir leading to the famous peace and reconciliation meeting in Rumbek, and especially the manner in which some people with ulterior motives wanted to use Kiir to accomplish their own purposes of getting rid of Garang, has contributed to a conspiracy theory that the same guys who wanted to manipulate and use Salva Kiir might have been behind the mysterious death of Garang. These are the same guys mentioned by Elijah Malok Aleng to have come to the far-reaching conclusion that the only way the SPLM/A could be reformed and restructured effectively was by getting rid of Garang first and foremost because nothing good could happen with him at the helm. Since they could not depose Garang by democratic means or through a military coup, some conspiracy theorists determined that these same rogue elements within the SPLM/A might have plotted with Khartoum, Ugandan and some international countries who felt threatened by Garang’s independence-mindedness and rising stature to assassinate him on his way back from Uganda.

Interestingly, the conspiracy theorists don’t directly link Salva Kiir to the plot; he is presumed to have been kept in the dark because either the plotters thought they would benefit more under him or they could at last control him unlike Garang who was uncontrollable and thus a threat to them. Another interesting fact is the widely perceived role played by the Americans in the death of Garang. Some people in South Sudan hold the conviction that the American CIA killed Garang because he could not give them oil.

The Khartoum elements could be the very hardliners who were bitterly unhappy with the CPA in general and with Osman Taha in particular, accusing him of having given too much away to the South. That won’t be surprising since those hardliners within the NIF and military intelligence were alleged to have masterminded the 1995 attempted assassination of the Egyptian President Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. If such hardliners, frightened by the millions of Sudanese who greeted Garang on his triumphant arrival in Khartoum after 21 years in the bush, really believe that the CPA in general and Garang in particular were an existential threat to their political and economic survival, and if they were helpless in the inevitable political and democratic transformation that Garang was about to unleash in the post CPA Sudan, then surely they might have killed Garang with or without the involvement of some rogue elements within the SPLM/A leadership council or the possible assistance of the Ugandan government.

Hardliners in Khartoum might have killed Garang as a part of the “repairing the damage”[129] purportedly done by Osman Taha who was accused of having “sold” the North to the South. On Uganda, it is just hard to imagine Museveni teaming up with the Arab-Islamic hardliners in the North on a plot to eliminate Garang. Museveni had done so much for the cause of South Sudanese liberation: arming and even contributing troops to the SPLM/A, with Ugandans soldiers fighting and dying alongside their SPLM/A comrades in the 1990s when the SPLM/A was on the verge of total annihilation as a result of the adverse effect ushered in by the 1991 Nasir coup. Museveni allowed the SPLM/A to bring in their weapons through Uganda by land after the Kenyan army started stealing them; Museveni was a personal colleague of Garang dating back to their school days in Tanzania together with Paul Kagame of Rwanda. That Museveni would sign on execution plot to assassinate Garang is just unbelievable unless proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Still, it is highly likely that, pending further clarification and transparency about the events surrounding his death, Garang might have been assassinated by the hardliners within the NCP who felt threatened by both the CPA which they regarded as a sell-out and particularly by Garang owing to the unprecedented numbers of Sudanese citizens who showed up to welcome him to Khartoum on July 8, 2005. Garang’s ill-fated, secretive visit to Uganda might have given them a perfect cover to execute their evil plan. Whether or not they were assisted by some rogue elements within the SPLM/A leadership or in collusion with Uganda and other international elements or both is a hard case to prove, at least now based on the publicly available information.

  1. Conclusion

Garang had left Rumbek for Newsite on 28 July 2015, after the rally in which he anointed Salva Kiir Mayaardit and was “expected to put the finishing touches to his government to be announced on August 9, 2005.”[130] Garang was scheduled to attend the follow-up meeting to the Donor’s Conference in Paris, France, between July 29th and August 3rd, 2005. Had he gone to Paris on July 29, his fate, and that of Greater Sudan, would have been different. However, as fate would have it, Garang asked Commander Salva Kiir to go and represent him instead. Two days later, he passed away.

Garang, writes Jacob Jiel Akol, “sinned through unforgivable naivety. His mistake was to believe that the Northern leaders had signed the peace agreement in good faith…His death would have been ‘expected’, if not ‘timely’, if he had been shot by an assassin when he landed in Khartoum after more than two decades away from the capital. The death could not have been so ‘unexpected’ if he had died at the hands of his fellow Southerners during power struggles in the early 1980s, early ’90s and even as recently as [December 2004] just before the final peace accord was signed in Nairobi in January.”[131]

That was the sad demise of Garang, “the most visionary and incisive revolutionary thinker of Africa and undying martyr of South Sudan, but his vision will continue to inspire many peace loving people around the globe.”[132] Indeed, Garang “will be remembered in history, as someone who had done something an African has never done before. He locked up his doctorate degree in a suitcase, picked [up] an AK-47 assault rifle and joined thousands of other volunteers to liberate his people. With a doctorate degree in agro-economics in his possession, Garang had an opportunity to negotiate a job of his choice anywhere in the world. But he chose to go to the bush – not to Washington, London or Geneva – and be with his people and share a life in a jungle infested with mosquitoes, snakes and wild animals. A selfless individual, Garang was.”[133]

In the memorable words of Comrade Isaiah Abraham, “I don’t care whether Garang was a villain to you, but for the sake of the truth, and given the stature of that man, someone will have to clear the air about the grey areas mentioned above. Garang can’t just die like that and the entire nation, especially his colleagues, keep on burying their heads in the sand. By knowing the truth, the nation will start with a clear conscience that nothing was awry but natural like any other tragedy. To die is inevitable but to go under cloudy grounds is a snarl of reality about death itself.”[134]

As the Republic of South Sudan commemorates the 10th anniversary of Garang’s tragic death on 30 July 2015, it is imperative that the SPLM-led government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayaardit immediately launches a fresh investigation into the plane crash that killed him. The exact cause of the crash isn’t so much about the lack of “external factors at play”[135] or the presence of poor weather conditions that evening as it is about the question of the mysterious failure of the navigation aids on-board the plane to function according to installation.

In other words, why was the FDR mysteriously “blank”? Did someone simply forget to reset it as the team of international investigators would wish South Sudanese people to believe or did someone deliberately tamper with it, with the full intention of killing Garang and effectively derailing the CPA?

The government of an independent South Sudan should be open to challenging the previous controversial finding of the joint Ugandan-Sudanese investigation team. The technical investigation needs to be reopened and re-examined. For South Sudanese people to get conclusive evidence of the plane crash that killed their leader, “the bits and pieces of the wreckage must be collected and the exact plane [should] be rebuilt from this wreckage.”[136]

Only then will the South Sudanese people have peace of mind, having known beyond reasonable doubt the circumstances surrounding Garang’s death on President Museveni’s helicopter. Otherwise, the prevailing “skepticism about the cause of Garang’s death is not confined to South Sudan…It’s hard to come across a single soul in sub-Saharan Africa who accepts the official version that the helicopter, provided by his long-time friend, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, crashed in bad weather.”[137]

 —–

PaanLuel Wël, the author, is a South Sudanese national currently residing in Juba, South Sudan. He graduated with a double major in Economics and Philosophy from The George Washington University, Washington D.C, USA. He is the author of Return in Peace (R.I.P) Dr. John Garang and Who Killed Dr. John Garang and also the Editor of the essential speeches and writings of the late SPLM/A leader, Dr. John Garang, published as The Genius of Dr. John Garang, vol. 1-3. You can reach him through his email: paanluel2011@gmail.com or Facebook page 

—-

[1] Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, “The Killing of John Garang: Who did it?” Pambazuka News, 28 June 2007.

[2] Juach Deng, “On the 8th Anniversary of Dr. John Garang’s Death.” South Sudan Nation, 25 July 2013.

[3] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[4] Ibid

[5] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[6] “John Garang’s Death Sparks Riots in Khartoum Sunday.” AFP/Reuters, 31 July 2005.

[7] “Investigation Demanded into John Garang’s Death.” Associated Press, 04 August 2005.

[8] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[9] “Garang’s Wife, Madam Nyandeng, Doubted the Flight.” The Ugandan New Vision, 03 Aug 2005.

[10] Francis Mading Deng, “Dr. John Garang: Heroes Do Not Die,” in New Sudan in the Making, edited by Francis Mading Deng, 2010, pp. 475-480.

[11] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “Museveni Says Garang Death Unclear, as Kiir Declines to Comment.” AFP, 5 Aug 2005.

[15] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[16] “Garang’s Crash: Blackbox Reveals Secrets.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 1 September 2005.

[17] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[18] “Sudanese President to Receive Final Report on Garang Crash.” Sudan Tribune, 17 March 2006.

[19] Sana Abbas; Trans. by John A. Akech, “Sudan, Uganda Differences Over the Causes of Garang Crash.” Al-Ray Al-Ayam, 19 April 2006.

[20] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[21] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] “Garang’s Crash: Blackbox Reveals Secrets.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 1 September 2005.

[26] Andrew Natsios, “Dr. John Garang: Made in the U.S.A,” in Sudan, South Sudan and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2012.

[27] Andrew Natsios, “Dr. John Garang: Made in the U.S.A,” in Sudan, South Sudan and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2012.

[28] John Ryle, “Peace still has Future in Sudan after Death of Garang.” Financial Times, 2 August 2005.

[29] “Garang’s Crash: Blackbox Reveals Secrets.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 1 September 2005.

[30] “Sudan Set to Bury Garang Amid Questions over Death.” AFP, 6 Aug 6 2005.

[31] Ibid.

[32] “Sudanese President to Receive Final Report on Garang Crash.” Sudan Tribune, 17 March 2006.

[33] Ibid.

[34] “Museveni Says Garang Death Unclear, as Kiir Declines to Comment.” AFP, 5 Aug 2005.

[35] Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, “The Killing of John Garang: Who did it?” Pambazuka News, 28 June 2007.

[36] James Okuk Solomon, “Qualms Surrounding Dr. Garang’s Cause of Death.” Sudan Tribune, 26 August 2007.

[37] Juach Deng, “On the 8th Anniversary of Dr. John Garang’s Death.” South Sudan Nation, 25 July 2013.

[38] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[39] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[40] Sana Abbas; Trans. by John A. Akech, “Sudan, Uganda Differences Over the Causes of Garang Crash.” Al-Ray Al-Ayam, 19 April 2006.

[41] Mohamed Osman, “Sudanese State TV – Plane Carrying Vice President John Garang is Missing.” Associated Press, 31 July 2005.

[42] Ibid.

[43] “Sudanese Vice President, 13 Others, Killed in Air Crash.” Associated Press, 1 Aug 2005.

[44] “Sudan’s Vice-President is Confirmed Dead in Aircraft Crash.” Associated Press, August 1, 2005.

[45] Scott Benjamin, “Sudanese Riot Over VP’s Death.” The Associated Press, 1 August 2005.

[46] “Sudanese Vice President, 13 Others, Killed in Air Crash.” Associated Press, 1 Aug 2005.

[47] Isaiah Abraham, “Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe.” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2012.

[48] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[49] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “The Mysterious Death of Dr. John Garang de Mabior.” Sudan Tribune, 22 November 2005.

[50] “Garang’s Crash: Blackbox Reveals Secrets.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 1 September 2005.

[51] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[52] Eulogies to the Late SPLM/A Leader, Dr. John Garang by President Museveni, in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[53] Hilde Johnson, “Dr. John Garang: Anointing Salva Kiir Mayardit in Rumbek, Three Days Before his Death,” in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[54] John Cherian, “John Garang’s Obituary, 1945-2005: Guerilla Turned Statesman.” Frontline, 26 Aug 2005.

[55] Eulogies to the Late SPLM/A Leader, Dr. John Garang by President Museveni, in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[56] Alfred Wasike, “Garang, Museveni Debated the Ill-Fated Flight.” The Ugandan New Vision Newspaper, 11 Aug 2005.

[57] “In the Sudan, Questions Remain about Death of Southern Leader John Garang.” WMR, 23 April 2010.

[58] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.

[65] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[66] “Sudan confirms death of Vice-President Dr. John Garang.” AFP/Reuters, 1 August 2005.

[67] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[68] Ibid.

[69] “In the Sudan, Questions Remain about Death of Southern Leader John Garang.” WMR, 23 April 2010.

[70] Isaiah Abraham, “Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe.” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2012.

[71] “In the Sudan, Questions Remain about Death of Southern Leader John Garang.” WMR, 23 April 2010.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Isaiah Abraham, “Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe.” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2012.

[74] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.

[77] “Garang Wreckage: More Details on Moments Before the Crash.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 8 September 2005.

[78] “Garang Wreckage: More Details on Moments Before the Crash.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 8 September 2005.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Ibid.

[81] Ibid.

[82] Ibid.

[83] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[84] Ibid.

[85] Isaiah Abraham, “Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe.” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2012.

[86] “Garang’s Wife, Madam Nyandeng, Doubted the Flight.” The Ugandan New Vision, 03 Aug 2005.

[87] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[88] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[89] Mohamed Osman, “Sudanese Vice President, 13 Others, Killed in Air Crash.” Associated Press, 1 Aug 2005.

[90] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[91] Steve Paterno, “New Revelation on John Garang’s Death.” Sudan Tribune, 19 August 2007.

[92] “U.N. Says 17 Bodies Recovered at Garang Crash Site.” Reuters, 10 Aug 10 2005.

[93] Ibid.

[94] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[95] “Garang Wreckage: More Details on Moments Before the Crash.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 8 September 2005.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “The Mysterious Death of Dr. John Garang de Mabior.” Sudan Tribune, 22 November 2005.

[98] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[99] “Garang Wreckage: More Details on Moments Before the Crash.” The Ugandan Weekly Observer, 8 September 2005.

[100] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[101] Ibid.

[102] “Investigators Examines Medical Reports of Garang Crash.” PANA, 11 Sept 2005.

[103] “Garang crash helicopter was ‘healthy’: No Terrorism in Garang Crash.” AFP, 09 September 2005.

[104] Garang’s speech in 1992, in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 1

[105] Riong is a cow kills by young man as part of his initiation process to mark his passage from boyhood to manhood among the Dinka people. Culturally, one is strictly prohibited from eating the meat of one’s riong. Therefore, Garang was telling the people in Kongor that no one eats his own “riong” in reference to the CPA.

[106] Hilde Johnson, Waging Peace in Sudan: The Inside Story of the Negotiations that Ended Africa’s Longest Civil War, 2011

[107] “Death of Ex-Rebel Leader Garang Rocks Sudan.” Reuters, 2 August 2005.

[108] Elijah Malok Aleng, “Dr. John Garang: The Death of a Patriot, the Death of a Hero,” in The Southern Sudan: Struggle for Liberty (2009), as quoted in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[109] Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, “The Killing of John Garang: Who did it?” Pambazuka News, 28 June 2007.

[110] Ibid.

[111] Hilde Johnson, “Dr. John Garang: Anointing Salva Kiir Mayardit in Rumbek, Three Days Before his Death,” in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[112] Isaiah Abraham, “Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe.” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2012.

[113] Ibid.

[114] “Wikileak Cable: Khartoum and Cairo in a Joint Plot to Assassinate President Salva Kiir.” PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers, 17 June 2015.

[115] Ibid.

[116] Dr. John Apurut Akech, “30th July 2005: The Day South Sudanese Will Never Forget.” Sudan Tribune, July 29, 2006.

[117] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Ibid.

[120] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[121] “What Happened to John Garang De Mabior Between Uganda and Sudan?” Horn of Africa News Agency, Aug 6, 2005.

[122] James Okuk Solomon, “Qualms Surrounding Dr. Garang’s Cause of Death.” Sudan Tribune, 26 August 2007.

[123] Dr. John Garang: The Death of a Patriot, The Death of a Hero, by Elijah Malok Aleng, The Southern Sudan: Struggle for Liberty, page 239-243

[124] Dr. John Garang: The Death of a Patriot, The Death of a Hero, By Elijah Malok Aleng, The Southern Sudan: Struggle for Liberty, page 239-243

[125] Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe, by Isaiah Abraham, Juba, South Sudan, 17 January 2012 (Sudan Tribune)

[126] Elijah Malok Aleng, “Dr. John Garang: The Death of a Patriot, the Death of a Hero,” in The Southern Sudan: Struggle for Liberty (2009), as quoted in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[127] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[128] Ibid.

[129] Hilde Johnson, Waging Peace in Sudan: The Inside Story of the Negotiations that Ended Africa’s Longest Civil War. Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2011.

[130] Arop Madut Arop, “Dr. John Garang: The Rebel Leader Turned Statesman,” in Sudan’s Painful Road to Peace: A Full Story of the Founding and Development of the SPLM/SPLA (2006), as quoted in The Genius of Dr. John Garang, Vol. 3

[131] Jacob J. Akol’s article in the Daily Nation newspaper of Kenya on Aug. 3, 2005

[132] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[133] Moyiga Korokoto Nduru, “John Garang’s Legacy.” Sudan Tribune, 31 July 2006.

[134] Isaiah Abraham, “Garang’s Death: A Call for Fresh Probe.” Sudan Tribune, 17 January 2012.

[135] Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa, “Garang’s Superseded Aircraft: Who Killed Dr. John Garang De Mabior?” Sudan Tribune, 10 May 2006.

[136] Steve Paterno, “New Revelation on John Garang’s Death.” Sudan Tribune, 19 August 2007.

[137] Moyiga Korokoto Nduru, “John Garang’s Legacy.” Sudan Tribune, 31 July 2006.

——————————————-

Return In Peace (R.I.P) Dr. John Garang de Mabioor
Return In Peace (R.I.P) Dr. John Garang de Mabioor —By PaanLuel Wël (July 30, 2014)
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Comments
  1. Well narrated!
    Why won’t you highlight us of South Sudan liberators in general? The story is one sided.
    Thank

    Like

  2. INDEED I AM ALSO LIKE YOU, VERY SUSPECIOUS ABOUT Dr. GARANG’s DEATH IN THE FATEFULL PLANE CRUSH WITHOUT EXTERNAL FACTORS INVOLVED IN IT! AS IT WAS BY THE CONCLUDED BY THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY.
    I EXPECT AN INDEPENDENT NEW ENQUIRY TO BE LAUNCHED BY SOUTH SUDAN GOVERNMENT WILL UNVILL THE TRUTH SOONER OR LATER.

    Like

  3. Umba Peter says:

    I like the eloquence in narrating the story. It is a heart touching narrative. I wish it goes out there so that anyone in our government takes up the initiative to launch fresh investigation. And we should also realize that Garang’s death affects us more negatively than positively as those who wished him death thought. Whoever contributed to Garang’s death surely is our new enemy.

    Like

  4. […] Sette mesi dopo la firma degli accordi, Garang precipitò misteriosamente mentre era a bordo dell’elicottero presidenziale ugandese MI-172 sulla via del ritorno da Rwakitura, nel distretto di Mbarara nell’Uganda occidentale, dove si era incontrato con il presidente Museveni. La vedova di Garang, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, continua tutt’oggi ad accusare l’attuale preside…. […]

    Like

  5. […] Commemorating the 10th Anniversary: Who Killed Dr. John Garang de Mabioor? […]

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