SUDAN WATCH: Sudan's southern leader returns

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Sudan's southern leader returns

Today, a BBC report confirms John Garang, leader of the SPLM has returned to his base, the remote town of Rumbek, for the first time since signing a historic peace deal.

Mr Garang was received at the airport by a delegation including the UN chief envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, and greeted by a marching band, traditional dancers and a large crowd of onlookers. As he got off the plane, Mr Garang stepped over a white cow that had been slaughtered on the tarmac. A white cow is considered a peace offering among Mr Garang's Dinka tribe.

"It feels great after a peace agreement - honourable and dignified - you can see the people are very happy," Mr Garang told the BBC. "Our first task is to ratify the agreement. That's why we have come to Rumbek. The same thing will be done in Khartoum."

Mr Garang has said the first priority for the planned SPLM administration in the south will be the voluntary repatriation of refugees and the provision of basic humanitarian needs. Here's hoping he will get down to working out the details of UN peacekeepers without further delay.

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Mr Garang received a rapturous welcome after flying into the town of Rumbek in southern Sudan. He steps over a white cow which was slaughtered on the tarmac as he got off the plane, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005. Garang recently signed a peace deal in neighboring Kenya to end 21-years of conflict in southern Sudan. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

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Cattle follow a woman through central Rumbek, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005 in southern Sudan. 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan has destroyed the infrastructure in the region and reconstruction is slowly starting with three international investors operating in rebel held areas of southern Sudan. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

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