Rebel Chieftain Reportedly Ousted in Sudan
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Three top commanders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army say they ousted the rebel movement’s chieftain after accusing him of turning their eight-year war into a ″reign of terror.″
The three commanders said in a statement that the ouster of Col. John Garang was necessary to save the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement from collapse, and in order to turn it toward democracy.
The SPLA is the military wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
″We cannot remain behind when the winds of democracy are blowing all over Africa and the world at large,″ said Lam Akol, a top aide to Garang, and rebel army field commanders Riek Mashar Teny-Dhurgon and Gordon Koang Chol.
The comments were made in a statement dated Aug. 28 that was given to a British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Thursday during a visit to Southern Sudan. He gave a copy to The Associated Press upon his return to Nairobi.
Garang’s whereabouts were unknown and it could not be determined if the three commanders were in control of the SPLA, which has waged an eight-year war against the Khartoum government.
″For the past eight years, John Garang has been running the movement in a most dictatorial and autocratic manner,″ said the statement. ″He oppressed, humiliated and degraded the people and turned a popular struggle into war- lordism and a reign of terror.″
The statement said Garang had imprisoned many of his own followers for years simply because they differed with him, and that his actions had led to a ″a simmering discontent among the rank and file of the movement,″ it said.
The three commanders said they decided to relieve Garang of the leadership ″in order to save the movement from imminent collapse.″
The commanders said the movement ″shall relentlessly strive to attain a peaceful settlement to the present Sudanese conflict″ and more actively support famine relief efforts by the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations.
U.S. Rep. Tony Hall told reporters in Nairobi today that he and two other members of the House Select Committee on Hunger had heard of a split within the SPLA during a separate visit to southern Sudan on Thursday.
The Ohio democrat expressed concern that the split could disrupt humanitarian assistance in the region, but was unable to provide details.
The rebels have been waging war against the traditionally Muslim government in Khartoum for greater authonomy for Southern Sudan, where most people are Christians or followers of old African faiths.