By Katie Nguyen
NEW SITE, Sudan, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) named Salva Kiir to succeed its leader John Garang who died in a helicopter crash.
- Salva Kir & John Garang
"The SPLM leadership and the SPLA military command joint meeting ... unanimously affirmed General Salva Kiir Mayardit as the chairman of the SPLM and commander in chief of the SPLA," SPLM’s senior official Pagan Amun told reporters on Monday.
"Therefore he is the nominee to the position of the 1st vice president of the republic of Sudan and the president of the government of South Sudan."
Kiir was Garang’s deputy and played a major role in negotiating the early stages of the peace deal which this year ended 21 years of north-south civil war. He was officially appointed deputy president of the government of Southern Sudan on July 16 by Garang.
He had been deputy chairman of SPLM/SPLA high command since 1997 and was widely expected to succeed Garang.
"There has been no dissent or disagreement, he has got the support of the entire SPLM," Amun said.
Kiir chaired the meeting of about 21 top leaders from the political wing and military command of the SPLM/A in the SPLM’s administrative headquarters of New Site.
The SPLM said it expected Kiir to be sworn in as 1st vice president in two weeks’ time.
Garang died over the weekend after the Ugandan presidential helicopter he was travelling in went down in bad weather.
Six of Garang’s companions and a crew of seven also died in the crash near the Sudan-Uganda border, Khartoum said on Monday, although a member of the southern Sudan leadership council said 17 bodies were recovered.