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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora