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Bells, Ceremonies to Mark Birth of South Sudan


Soldiers of the Sudan People's Liberation Army march during a rehearsal for independence celebrations in the southern capital of Juba, July 5, 2011

Soldiers of the Sudan People's Liberation Army march during a rehearsal for independence celebrations in the southern capital of Juba, July 5, 2011

The government of south Sudan has unveiled plans for the ceremonies that will mark the new country's independence on Saturday.

The government is urging its citizens to gather in churches and public squares Friday evening to light candles and say prayers for the new nation.

It says at midnight, bells will be rung across the country, marking the birth of the new nation, to be known as the Republic of South Sudan.

The official independence ceremony takes place Saturday in the capital, Juba. The government says 3,500 people will attend, including 30 African heads of state.

A choir will sing the country's new national anthem, and then the head of the south's parliament will read a proclamation of independence.

Southern President Salva Kiir will be sworn into office after he signs the country's new transitional constitution.

South Sudan will become the 193rd country in the world and the 55th in Africa.

Other events connected with the celebrations are a Saturday night concert in Juba, and a football match on Sunday between Kenya and the new southern Sudanese national team.

The United States will be represented at the independence ceremony by the special U.S. envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman.

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