Skip to comments.Christian Becomes Vice-President of Sudan
Posted on 07/09/2005 9:09:32 AM PDT by Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
Ex-rebel leader John Garang has been sworn in as Sudan's vice-president, ending two decades of bitter civil war. President Omar al-Bashir signed a power-sharing constitution with Mr Garang's followers at a ceremony in Sudan's capital, Khartoum.
Southern Sudan is to be given some autonomy and former rebels will take up seats in the country's government.
One-and-a-half million people died in 20 years of fighting between the mainly Muslim north and Christian south.
A full power-sharing government is due to be formed next month.
As well as being named national vice-president, Mr Garang will head the autonomous administration in southern Sudan for six years, ahead of a referendum on possible secession.
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and South African President Thabo Mbeki were among world leaders watching Saturday's ceremony.
The BBC's Jonah Fisher, in Khartoum, says that everyone in Sudan is acutely aware that the failure of this agreement would mean the end of Sudan as a united country.
"My presence here today in Khartoum is a true signal that the war is over," Mr Garang said as he took his oath of office.
Mr al-Bashir described the new constitution as a "new path" for Sudan.
This is not my peace or the peace of al-Bashir, it is the peace of the Sudanese people
Profile: John Garang "We will all co-operate and all unite in order to restore to Sudan, God willing, all that it missed out on in the last 50 years," he added.
Under the new constitution, Sudan's current ruling party will have 52% of the government and parliament, and Mr Garang's Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) 28%.
Northern and southern opposition parties will take the remaining 20%.
Sudan's new oil wealth will be shared between north and south, and Islamic Sharia law will not be applied in the south.
No Christian or southerner has ever held such a senior position in Sudan's largely Islamic government, and until recently, waving an SPLM flag in Khartoum would have invited arrest.
The moves are part of a peace deal agreed in January.
'Day of peace'
Earlier, Mr Garang and his wife were greeted by government ministers and dignitaries as they flew into Khartoum.
Tight security stopped Mr Garang from meeting his own supporters at the airport.
But there were chaotic scenes on the streets of the capital where teeming southern Sudanese were anxious to welcome the beginning of a new era, our correspondent says.
At a private meeting, Mr al-Bashir welcomed his former enemy to Khartoum, saying it was a "day of real peace".
"I congratulate the Sudanese people, this is not my peace or the peace of al-Bashir, it is the peace of the Sudanese people," Mr Garang said after the meeting.
The deal to end the war in the south does not affect the separate conflict in the western region of Darfur.
Im sure Osama is deeply saddened
Now hold on here! I thought that all real Muslims only live to kill Christians. Could it be the nuke Mecca crowd are wrong?
Can visualize Garang losing his head by islamic kidnapping backed by al-Bashir.