Saturday, July 9, 2011

South Sudan becomes independent

Citizens of the new country celebrate independence of the South Sudan at midnight in the capital Juba, July 9, 2011

Source: Press TV

South Sudan has become independent, making it Africa's newest nation and the world's newest country.

South Sudan became independent several minutes ago, shortly after midnight local time on July 9.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Sudanese President Omar Bashir, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Yehia al-Gamal, and other prominent political figures travelled to the South Sudan capital Juba on Friday to attend the independence ceremony of the new Republic of South Sudan.

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, and the head of the US military's Africa Command, Gen Carter Ham were also in Juba for the independence day celebrations.

President Bashir, who forged the 2005 peace deal with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), expressed readiness to work with the “Southern brothers and help them set up their state so that, God willing, this state will be stable and develop.”

“The cooperation between us will be excellent, particularly when it comes to marking and preserving the border so there is a movement of citizens and goods via this border,” he said.

South Sudan becomes the 193rd country recognized by the United Nations and the 54th UN member state in Africa.

Joyful residents of the new nation banged on jerry cans and chanted the name of the world's newest president, Salva Kiir, the Associated Press reported.

“We are brothers and sisters who suffered for a long time, and that is why we are now celebrating, what we will achieve,” said a resident.

“In independence we are going to have hospitals and schools and a lot of development around here. Our mothers and sisters died in the past. Hospitals were very far from us.”

South Sudan's independence comes after decades of conflict with the north in which over 1.5 million people died. The new oil-rich nation is one of the least developed countries in the world, where one in seven children dies before the age of five.

A historic peace agreement between North and South Sudan signed in 2005 paved the way for an independence referendum in January 2011, in which southerners voted almost unanimously to secede. North Sudan has officially recognized southern independence.

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