July 8th, 2011
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.
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. source