African and world leaders are mourning the sudden death of Sudan's vice president and longtime rebel leader John Garang.
The 53-member African Union released a statement saying Mr. Garang has left behind an enduring legacy, but also a huge vacuum. The AU urged Sudan and the former rebel movement to rise to the challenge of following through on Mr. Garang's vision of a united and peaceful Sudan.
In South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki said news of the death came as a great shock. He called for restraint and asked all parties in Sudan to remain committed to the nation's historic peace accords.
Mr. Garang's longtime deputy, Salva Kiir Mayarit, told reporters that Sudan has lost its beloved son.
In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he learned of Mr. Garang's death with "great sorrow." He described him as larger than life and said he was assured by both the Sudanese government and former rebel movement that the peace process will move forward.
The European Union also expressed its regret over Mr. Garang's death, saying it is essential that Sudanese statesmen continue working together to consolidate the peace process.