South Sudan becomes world's newest nation

2011-07-09 07:15

Juba - South Sudan became the world's newest nation early on Saturday, officially breaking away from Sudan after two civil wars over five decades that cost the lives of millions.

In the new country's capital, Juba, streets pulsed with excitement. Residents danced, banged on jerry cans and chanted the name of the world's newest president, Salva Kiir. One man kneeled and kissed the ground as a group ran through the streets singing "We will never, never, never surrender."

"Ah, I'm free," said Daniel Deng, a 27-year-old police officer and former soldier who broke out in a wide grin.

The Republic of South Sudan earned independence at 00:01 on Saturday, breaking Africa's largest country in two. It marked the culmination of a January independence vote, which was guaranteed in a 2005 peace deal that ended the most recent north-south war.

After the celebrations die down, residents of South Sudan face an uphill climb. While the new country is oil-rich, it is one of the poorest and least-developed places on Earth. Unresolved problems between the south and its former foe to the north could mean new conflict along the new international border, advocates and diplomats warn.

Generation of hope

Saturday's early morning celebrations were joyous for the freedom gained but tinged with the memories of family lost. At least two million people were killed in Sudan's last civil war, fought from 1983-2005.

"I came here for this moment," said Chol Allen, a 32-year-old minister who escaped Sudan in 2003 and eventually settled in Memphis, Tennessee. He returned to Juba two months ago for the midnight party, though he plans to go back to the US, where he has a four-year-old daughter.

"We were all born into war. All of us," he said, then pointed at a crowded pick-up truck of youngsters. "This generation will see the hope of the newborn nation."

John Kuach, a former child soldier who joined the army after his father died in fighting with the north, first fought at age 15. At dinner late on Friday, he draped the South Sudan flag around his shoulders and called Saturday "a big day".

"But some people are not happy because we lost heroes, those who were supposed to be in this celebration. So we are thinking, 'Is this true? Is this a dream? A new country?'"


The internationally brokered 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of north-south war expires at midnight Friday. That's when Sudan - which South Sudan is breaking away from - officially recognised the new country.

South Sudan is expected to become the 193rd country recognised by the United Nations next week and the 54th UN member state in Africa.

Later on Saturday, world leaders will attend a celebratory ceremony. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon already has arrived. Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell also will attend, as will Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whose country already has recognised South Sudan.

The young government faces the huge challenge of reforming its bloated and often predatory army, diversifying its oil-based economy, and deciding how political power will be distributed among the dozens of ethnic and military factions. It must also begin delivering basic needs such as education, health services, water and electricity to its more than eight million citizens.

Groundwork for the president

Abdule Taban wore a wide smile during the night's street party, but the 25-year-old was also reflective.

"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," said Taban, as South Sudanese dusted in white cow dung - a traditional camouflage here - danced around him.

A draft constitution passed this week lays the groundwork for the president and legislators, who were elected last year, to serve out their five-year terms. The legislature's few opposition lawmakers are unhappy with the draft, but it now serves as an interim constitution until multiparty elections are held.

A $1bn yearly UN peacekeeping mission with a 10 000-member peacekeeping force has monitored implementation of the 2005 peace deal. The mission has drawn criticism for its failure to protect Sudanese civilians caught in violence along the north-south border and in the south, where conflict has killed nearly 2 400 people this year alone.

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a new peacekeeping force for South Sudan, authorising the deployment of up to 7 000 military personnel and 900 international police, plus an unspecified number of UN civilian staff including human rights experts.

Sigh of relief

The Obama administration has devoted considerable time to ensuring the fragile peace deal holds.

With the raising of South Sudan's flag in the world's newest capital, Juba, the international community may breathe a collective sigh of relief that independence has been reached. Al-Bashir has pledged to accept losing about one-third of his country's territory, an area that contains valuable oil fields.

But relations between the two already are looking bleak, with hostilities raging between northern troops and southern-allied forces in a northern border state, a tense stalemate over another disputed border zone, and a breakdown in negotiations this week over the future of Sudan's oil industry.

While South Sudan is now expected to control of more than 75% of what was Sudan's daily oil production, it has no refineries and southern oil must flow through the north's pipelines to reach market.

North-south negotiations under way in the Ethiopian capital this week broke down over disputes between the two sides over how to resolve the ongoing crisis in the Nuba Mountains region in northern Sudan, where black Africans from the Nuba tribe have taken to caves to take shelter from aerial bombing by the northern army in the past month.

Western diplomats say hostilities in that area have stymied efforts to resolve other critical outstanding issues between the governments. Princeton Lyman, the US envoy to Sudan, said Friday that relations between the south and north will be "strained and a little rocky".

"I don't expect that these countries are going to love each other but I do think they are bound up in each other," he said, citing the dependence north and south have on each other for trade and especially oil, which is the lifeblood of the economies of both governments.

'Everyone is for peace'

Oil has been a major sticking point at the negotiating table, and tensions worsened after the northern army's seizure of the disputed zone of Abyei in May.

Despite calls from the Security Council and others to remove its troops from Abyei after they displaced about 100 000 residents, the Sudanese Armed Forces continue to occupy the Texas-sized territory.

The 2 100km border is disputed in five areas, several of which are being illegally occupied by either northern or southern troops.

"Everyone is for peace in and between Sudan and South Sudan," said John Prendergast, founder of the Washington-based Enough Project.

"It is clear that as long as the government of Sudan can without consequence militarily occupy Abyei, bomb the Nuba Mountains, continue military operations in Darfur, and support militias in southern Sudan, then there will be no peace," said Prendergast, who urged the US government to work with allies to create "significant costs for ongoing human rights abuses and broken agreements."

  • senkgisha - 2011-07-09 07:33

    I would just like to congratulate those african leaders...Especially our former intelligent one Thabo Mbeki!!! I hope this country is not ran by the west because wherever there's oil,then faken west is involved.

      Ryan - 2011-07-09 08:25

      senkgisha - the oil would still be underground if it wasnt for the west. get over yourself

      senkgisha - 2011-07-09 08:37

      @stupid Ryan.if you can stop using those body sprays than having a proper bath,you can then qualify to comment on this site.are you aware of who really senkgisha will soon find out and then disappointment is what you gonna feel!!!

      Brieuse - 2011-07-09 08:44

      It's all the west's fault? lol. I blame the communist policies that most African leaders seem to love. Prosperity and communism do not mix because Africans by and large have a give me attitude.

      Zion - 2011-07-09 08:47

      Bluemas, notice you have spent R6.00 on the latest SONDAG. Need not worry, it takes all kinds to make aworld.

      Anton - 2011-07-09 08:51

      senkgisha Thabo Mbeki...........the intelligent one !!!!!!!!! You must be kidding. This is the President who even still today, believes AIDS, falls out of the tree......!!!!!! AND HAS COSTS THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF AIDS SUFFERERS Your racism and hatred blinds you from reality.!!!!!

      senkgisha - 2011-07-09 09:01

      @ Anton,where have done your research?Aids in the west is sort of curable. Remember Magic Johnson,the recent guy from Germany.....Hope this rings the bell now and if not you would never understant Thabo Mbeki's stand on HIV/AIDS.

      Anton - 2011-07-09 09:19

      senkgisha, With one thing you are right. The rest of the world, including the majority South Africans, will NEVER understand Thabo Mbeki!!! This is the President, who send his Minister Of Health , to a Canadian AIDS conference, with a basket full of GARLIC AND BEETROOT, who than did not only embarrass South Africa, but also insulted millions of Aids sufferers , the world over.!!! This is also the same President, who through his pathetic ,quite diplomacy, towards Zimbabwe, is the cause that MILLIONS of Zimbabweans had to run away from their own country !!!!!!

      Anton - 2011-07-09 09:25

      senkgisha And.... Aids, is NOT ,,sort of curable,, But if diagnosed in time, and with the right medicine, one could still live a good and possibly long live. This is what President Zuma has done; Not to listen to all crazy conspiracy and crap, but listen to the medical experts, and get on with the job. And through his leadership, thousands and thousands of lives have been saved. !!!!!

  • Sharkalaka - 2011-07-09 07:43

    the time for healing is here! Please look after you environment South Sudan - the tourists of the world need new destinations!

  • Obama Bin Laden - 2011-07-09 07:57

    And another failed African state is born

      sean.redmond3 - 2011-07-09 08:11

      Now they have start agreeing about who will lead.(Rule). That should only take a decade or two.

      GonnyVonYuri - 2011-07-09 16:08

      you mean another african state saving itself from the evil of islam in the north sudan

  • RobinHood - 2011-07-09 08:16

    Congratulations Who will run the country? Get the foreign aid application papers filled out.... Makes my think of the good old days - "We need our independence. We need a road, a casino and an infrastructure"

  • JabaJaba - 2011-07-09 09:07

    @Senkgisha - I am a proud black man...but I have to say that African leaders can make nothing happen!!! They are all in it for themselves....for example - look at Kenya, they got their independance in 1963 and to this date they do not have a Highway! whereas S.A was run by the 'pinks' until 1994 and look at our ifrastructure...all that the current goverment is doing is simply maintaining it (and making a mess of that too!!!) The problem with our African leaders and those that think they know politics is that THEY DONT KNOW THAT THEY DONT KNOW!!!! I AM LOYAL TO THE ANC BUT I THINK WE NEED SMARTER LEADERS!!!!

      senkgisha - 2011-07-09 09:22

      @jabbajaba...where does the anc fit?Remember the infrastructure done in apartheid years was for the same oppresor's benefit?As non pink,you were not allowed to get the driver's licence and how did you benefit out of that except for now?you must not forget that a lot o things were destroyed towards 1994 so that we start from the start and get blamed for not doing things quickly?It seem you are one of those who forgets so quick and that is the big mistake as some of this people are not really buying into reconciliation thing....there's a debate about sharing the land and have you listened to what most of the pink trollers say?They are not prepared to share but rater destroy the land by chemicals?

      jm21 - 2011-07-09 12:08

      Kenya does not have a highway??? Where did u get that from??? So how do things get around the country, using donkeys and cows??? This has got to be the most ignorant statement I've heard in a long time. Just to educate you, Kenya does have a number of highways and the country acts as a vital link to landlocked countries in East and Central Africa. The majority of the goods coming to and from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Southern Sudan pass through Kenya. In 2007 when there was post election violence in Kenya, prices of fuel and basic commodities in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi shot up because vehicles could not use the main highway to the Mombasa port. So, next time you mouth off your ignorance, please try and get your facts straight first

  • JabaJaba - 2011-07-09 09:11

    @senkgisha - I now allow you the opportunity to verify which country with an African being run sucessfully... In every African country - it is only our fellow black brothers who are suffering....NO FOOD, NO EDUCATION, NO WATER/ELECTRICITY...NO EVEN TOILET PAPER - FOR FK SAKES!!!

      senkgisha - 2011-07-09 09:30

      @Jabajaba.Every African country that wish to run their countries are mostly sanctioned.South Africa looks better because it's run by the west...Ramaphosa,Phosa,Macozama are all british puppets who are being financially empowered by the same monster.Robert Mugabe,Gaddafi are examples of good leaders.don't be brainwashed by the west propaganda because we would be slaves untill the end of time.

      senkgisha - 2011-07-09 09:32

      And leave that mentality tat you are black meanwhile you know very well u are not....anyway i don't avve a problem with pink people but their way of thinking and seeing things!!!

  • JabaJaba - 2011-07-09 09:35

    @senkgisha - land reform will not work...its not about just having the land - we need to use it to farm on and generate revenue...our people cannot do that...look at what happened in Zim...they got the land but they just sit and look at it everyday..... face it bchaka...our people are not doing anything for is just the rich getting richer....when last did you take a drive through Soweto?? OUR people are in dire straits...they have no food - children are suffering with no warm clothes for winter....this is what frustrates me my man.....where is our tax money going to - our black 'leaders' are eating the money bossa!!!

  • Dewald Pretorius - 2011-07-09 09:38

    Senkgisha Not driver's licence under pink apartheid??? You fool. In 1964 the black population in SA had more privately owned cars than the whole of the Soviet Union.

      GonnyVonYuri - 2011-07-09 16:09

      i somehow doubt that!

  • JabaJaba - 2011-07-09 09:39

    and its not about me forgetting the struggle .....I lost my Grandfather and Uncle in those problem is that it is 17 years (quickly???) and my people are still STRUGGLING!!!

  • JabaJaba - 2011-07-09 11:41

    @senkgisha - ose tlaela.....batho ba tshwanang lewena ba etsa batho rona ebe ditlaela.........tsamaya oyehorobala!!!!!

      Anton - 2011-07-09 13:37

      JabaJaba Well done !! You see the problem with people like Senkgisha, is that they can only see things in white and black. They don't understand , nor accept, that under the various races, their can be unity as well as difference of opinion.

  • Martin du Plessis - 2011-07-09 12:48

    Well, anyway, good luck to them. Hopefully they can do differently than most of their immediate neighbours and by that i mean (first and foremost) not have leaders that will screw the populace continuously untill they get fed up and another uprising starts (read: Gadaffi)

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