Wild celebrations, jubilations and roaring applause have met the official declaration of South Sudan as an Independent State as the world witness the birth of the newest born nation.
Roaring Church bells and exploding voices from Mosque public e -loudspeakers also heralded the new dawn as world leaders send messages of congratulations.
The newest nation, The Republic of South Sudan has been created as the fall out of one of world’s most bitter and long wars on the soil of Africa.
United Nations Secretary General, Kin Moon led world leaders to the celebration as tens of thousands of the population gathered to see the raising of the country’s new flag at an independence ceremony in the capital, Juba
“Today we shall raise the flag of South Sudan to join the nations of the world,” said Pagan Amum, the secretary general of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, speaking at the base of a giant flagpole after independence was declared.
From early morning, thousands started to arrive at the official venue of Saturday’s celebrations in the capital Juba, singing songs and carrying flags.
Beckoning bell were ringing out from churches as midnight arrived to usher in a new era in a new fell of a moment of independence, though not without anticipated fears as the streets of the dusty city on banks of the White Nile were patrolled by heavily-armed soldiers.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, was among the dignitaries due to attend a historic ceremony, along with 30 African leaders and senior Western officials.
“I have not slept all night, we have been dancing and singing and praising God all night for this our independence,” said Mary Ajah, 28, who spent the evening with her congregation at her Protestant church in Juba, the capital.
“Not since Adam and Eve walked the Earth have South Sudanese had freedom, until today.”
Valentino Achak Deng, a former refugee from the war, said: “Really in my heart what makes me happiest is that from today, when people ask me where I am from, I do not have to say Sudan.”
“Before, we were associated in statehood with the very people trying to exterminate us.” South Sudan’s independence comes exactly six months after a referendum in which predominantly Christian southerners voted almost unanimously to split with their former civil war enemies in the north of Sudan, which is mostly Muslim.
For decades, until a peace agreement was signed in 2005, southern rebels fought a series of wars with the north, leaving the region in ruins, two million dead and a legacy of mutual mistrust.
Military parades, prayers and a performance of the new national anthem were due early in the morning, followed by the declaration of independence, the raising of the Republic of South Sudan’s flag and the swearing of an oath of office by the new country’s first president, Salva Kiir.
Southern officials have said the chief guest of honour at the celebrations would be Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, the south’s old enemy and a leader who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.
Alain Juppe, the French Foreign Minister, has already said he will try to avoid an encounter with Mr Bashir at the independence ceremony.
But Sudan was among the first countries to officially recognise the fledgling nation, which needs all the help it can get to overcome the vast challenges of building a stable and prosperous future.
Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of issues, most importantly the line of the border and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies. Sudan, which was Africa’s biggest nation until midnight on Friday, has lost much of its oil reserves to the new nation.
The Nuba Mountains on the border between Sudan and the new nation has recently been the scene of deadly clashes between northern troops and pro-southern militia. The United Nations Security Council voted on Friday to establish a force of up to 7,000 peacekeepers for South Sudan.
Egypt is one of the first African country to recognise the newly created country on Saturday with Foreign Minister Mohammed el-Orabi expressing his good wish.
Egypt has watched the split warily. It depends on the Nile’s water to survive and the creation of South Sudan adds a new state on that river.
East African states have argued to review colonial-era quotas for the use of Nile water.
Orabi was speaking after his arrival in Juba, the south’s capital, the official Egyptian news agency MENA reported.
Egypt’s support for the new state follows that of the Khartoum-based government of Sudan, which was the first to recognise South Sudan on Friday, a few hours before it formally became a new country at midnight.
The Cairo-based Arab League said South Sudan had the right to join the league, Egypt’s state television reported. (Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Louise Ireland)
However, Sudan’s former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi attributed the secession of South Sudan to the failure of the country’s rulers in managing its diversity, warning in the process against a new war between the two countries.
Today, 9 July, South Sudan declares formal independence from the North after the region’s citizens voted overwhelmingly to secede in a referendum held at the start of this year.
The vote was stipulated under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended more than two decades between the predominately Christian South and the Muslim-dominated North.
In a sermon he delivered following Friday prayers in South Sudan’s capital Juba, Al-Mahdi fulminated against the legitimacy of the rule of the National Congress Party (NCP) in North Sudan, saying that the secession of the South had further undermined the party’s credibility.
He further accused NCP’s leaders of peddling delusion about the beauty of Sudan’s map after secession, adding that the current map is “melancholic and indicative of detraction.”
Al-Mahdi, who had two spells in power as the country’s Prime Minister – and was ousted by a coup led by Sudan’s now president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir – acknowledged that the secession of South Sudan was a product of failure by the country’s rulers to manage diversity within unity.
The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) warned against what he termed as “the rise of racist and war-attracting rhetoric” by Northern and Southern leaders, accusing them of being unaware of the dangers of the new war.
Al-Mahdi called on the international community to participate in finding a solution to pending issues between North and South Sudan, in reference to disagreements over the borders and oil, warning that these issues could lead to war.
Separately, the NUP leader reiterated defense of his party’s decision to engage in dialogue with the NCP, saying they were negotiating with the NCP to prevent the disintegration of Sudan.
In a press conference held in Juba on Thursday, Al-Mahdi said that the dialogue between his party and the NCP had reached an advanced level.
However, he added that disagreements remain over essential issues “such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), Darfur and the national government.”
He further divulged that the dialogue was recently undermined by the issues of Abyei, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile as well as the NCP’s decision to deprive southerners from citizenship in the North.
“We have Americans and British citizens in the government itself, how come we deprive the country’s people’s in the South from citizenship,” Al-Mahdi said in reference to the fact that some senior NCP officials are holders of Western passports.
Sources: Sudan Tribune, Telegraph and Reuters