News / Africa

South Sudan Celebrates Independence

South Sudan men celebrate independence at a ceremony in Juba.
South Sudan men celebrate independence at a ceremony in Juba.

Multimedia

Gabe Joselow

South Sudan celebrated its independence day Saturday with a flag-raising and a swearing-in ceremony for the new president in the capital Juba.

A party that started at midnight carried on into Saturday at a ceremony celebrating South Sudan’s first day as an independent nation.

Crowds packed John Garang Mausoleum in the capital Juba as military bands and police battalions marched past a grandstand packed with foreign dignitaries and members of the international organizations that play a leading role helping the developing nation.

South Sudan At A Glance

  • Total Population is 8.26 million

  • Total Area is 644,329 sq. km

  • More than 51 percent of the population is under age 18

  • 72 percent of the population is under age 30

  • 83 percent of the population is rural

  • 27 percent of the adult population is literate

  • 51 percent of the population lives in poverty

  • 78 percent of households depend on crop or livestock farming for income

  • 55 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water

    Click here for more S. Sudan facts

But despite the festive atmosphere, there were constant reminders that the country was being born into poverty.

Newly sworn-in President Salva Kiir delivered a sobering message. “All the indexes of human welfare put us at the bottom of all humanity. All citizens of this nation must therefore fully dedicate their energies and resources to the construction of a vibrant economy," he said.

After decades of civil war that left more than two million people dead, the country faces significant challenges. The majority of the population lives on a dollar a day and lack access to basic health care.

At the same time, the country remains in conflict with its northern neighbor, the Republic of Sudan.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was on hand Saturday as the Sudanese flag was lowered and the South Sudanese flag was raised for the first time.

When he was first introduced, the crowds of South Sudanese, who have regarded the north as their enemy, gave reluctant applause. Nobody was sure what he would say.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir displays the transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan after signing it into law during the Independence Day celebrations in the capital Juba, July 9, 2011
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir displays the transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan after signing it into law during the Independence Day celebrations in the capital Juba, July 9, 2011

Then, at the start of his speech he recognized Salva Kiir as president of the new Republic of South Sudan.

Mr. Bashir went on to pledge further cooperation with the south, emphasizing that the two countries rely on each other economically.

But, in one of the strongest statements of the day, it was U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who pointed out that the north and south are still engaged in real conflict. “In recent weeks we have seen new violence and human suffering inflamed by potentially dangerous rhetoric. So today let this be a moment for north and south to declare unequivocally that they remain committed to addressing the unfinished business of the comprehensive peace agreement," he said.

The secretary general’s comments come days after President Bashir walked away from talks in Ethiopia aimed at ending ongoing fighting in South Kordofan State. Mr. Bashir has also insisted that the United Nations remove all peacekeeping forces from his country.

The United Nations recently agreed to establish a peacekeeping force for South Sudan that will replace the current mission.

Sudan Map The head of the U.S. delegation, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, said the United States will continue to be an honest friend to South Sudan. “No true friend would offer false comfort. The path ahead will be steep and sometimes pitted. But the Republic of South Sudan is being born amid great hopes," she said.

While the term “birth of a nation” may be overused, it does describe the common sentiment about South Sudan among the international community. It is a country that is brand new, that will need a lot of help developing, but for which there is still great hope.

 

View the timeline of the world's newest nation - Republic of South Sudan

 

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs