WASHINGTON (August 3, 2005) – Just as leaders in Sudan have called for calm, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' International Policy Committee today urged the people of Sudan to continue their pursuit of peace and justice and unity as a tribute to their vice president, who died in a helicopter accident last week.
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee said the agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), signed last January, is part of Vice President John Garang's legacy.
"We urge the people of Sudan and their leaders to respect that agreement, which is part of the John Garang's legacy, and pursue the path of peace, justice, unity, and economic development," Bishop Ricard said.
John Garang de Mabior had been a leader of the SPLM and was a major player in the negotiations that led to January's peace agreement.
Violent clashes in Khartoum since Monday have claimed at least 84 lives.
The full text of Bishop Ricard's statement follows:
"Our prayers are with the people of Sudan – both north and south – in the tragic loss of their vice president John Garang de Mabior. His sudden death is a loss not only to his native Sudan, but to all of Africa and to all people of goodwill struggling to transcend violence and injustice.
"He was a man of vision who turned from war to peace to bring the hope of a brighter future to all the people of Sudan. The agreement between the government of Sudan and his movement – the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement – ended hostilities, gave the hope of equal justice to the people of Sudan, and sought to preserve the unity of Sudan.
"We urge the people of Sudan and their leaders to respect that agreement, which is part of John Garang's legacy, and pursue the path of peace, justice, unity and economic development. We ask the international community to provide generous support for these urgent political and economic needs.
"At this difficult time of loss, we stand in solidarity with our brother bishops of Sudan in their heroic efforts to bring peace and justice to the people they serve."