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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Former Sudanese Rebel Boss Garang Dies in Copter Crash

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Women wailed and men cried silently as news reached exiles of the death of former southern Sudanese rebel leader John Garang.

Garang's January peace deal with the government he had fought had raised hopes of returning home among the thousands of southern Sudanese living in Kenya, where Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement had long been based. Now, grief and uncertainty vie with that hope -- among leaders in the region as well as among the Sudanese.

Garang, 60, died when his helicopter crashed into a southern mountain range in bad weather after taking off from Uganda, where he had been on a private visit. Missing since Saturday, his body was found in the wreckage on Monday.

"I call upon all members of the SPLM and the entire Sudanese nation to remain calm and vigilant," Garang's longtime deputy, Salva Kiir, said in Nairobi, adding he was on his way to an emergency SPLM meeting he had called.

Kiir was quickly named to succeed Garang as head of his movement and as president of south Sudan, Garang's spokesman Yasser Arman said. Arman indicated Kiir would also take Garang's post as first vice president in the national government, but there was no immediate confirmation from Khartoum.

Garang had been named vice president under the peace agreement, which also promised the south a share of power, a say in exploiting its resources and a promise of elections. The settlement allowed Garang to set up an administration in the south until a referendum in six years' time on secession.