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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora