South Sudan: World leaders welcome new nation

Independence and flag-raising ceremony in Juba, 9 July Tens of thousands watched an independence and flag-raising ceremony in Juba

Leaders across the globe have been sending their congratulations to South Sudan on the day it became the world's newest nation.

Statements recognising South Sudan's nationhood flowed from the US, UK, Russia and others as tens of thousands watched an independence and flag-raising ceremony in the capital, Juba.

Salva Kiir took the oath as president.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir attended and called on the US to end sanctions against his country.

US President Barack Obama said in a statement he was "proud to declare that the United States formally recognises the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9 2011".

He said: "A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn. These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realised by so many millions of people."

At the scene

A sea of people filled Freedom Square in Juba, next to the mausoleum of the late John Garang, the rebel leader who led the South Sudanese during the civil war. They waved flags and screamed in happiness as South Sudan officially became with world's newest nation.

The wild crowds surged forward, dancing for hours in the baking sun. Several people fainted in the heat but the mood was ecstatic. When the giant flag of South Sudan rose on the 30m flagpole, men cried, women ululated and thousands waved flags in a blur of colour.

A host of world leaders spoke on the podium, but the real party was at the back of the site where thousands danced to traditional drum beats.

But he did not mention the long-standing sanctions against Khartoum. Washington still lists Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In his speech to the independence ceremony, Mr Bashir said: "We congratulate our brothers in the south for the establishment of their new state. We share their joy and celebration. The will of the people of the south has to be respected."

He added: "We call on US President Barack Obama to deliver on his commitment he announced to lift the unilateral sanctions on Sudan to open to way to normalise his country's relations with Sudan."

Mr Obama indicated more work needed to be done, particularly in the disputed border regions of Abyei and Southern Kordofan.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement recognising South Sudan, saying: "This is an historic day, for South Sudan and the whole of Africa."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a telegram of congratulation and China's special envoy sent President Hu Jintao's "warmest congratulations".

South African President Jacob Zuma said: "We have always aspired to witness the dawn of peace, security and stability prevailing in the whole of the Sudan. That dream is coming to fruition."

'Hearts and minds'

The BBC's Will Ross watched the independence ceremony in Juba, saying the euphoria built as people waved goodbye to the north of Sudan and the flag of South Sudan was raised.

Will Ross describes the scene as the South Sudanese flag is raised in Juba

Wearing his trademark black cowboy hat, the South's new President Salva Kiir was sworn in and pledged better times ahead.

South Sudan

Facts and figures:

  • Population: 7.5-9.7 million
  • Size: 619,745 sq km (239,285 sq miles), larger than Spain and Portugal combined
  • Major languages: English, Arabic (both official), Juba Arabic, Dinka
  • Religion: Traditional and a Christian minority
  • Main export: Oil

Challenges ahead:

  • One of world's least developed countries: Worst maternal mortality rate; most children below 13 not in school; 84% of women are illiterate
  • Relations with Sudan: Dividing debts and oil; border disputes; citizenship
  • Security: At least seven active rebel groups

He told guests including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton: "Our martyrs did not die in vain... We have waited for more than 56 years for this day. It is a day that will be forever engraved on our hearts and minds."

The world's newest nation was born at midnight local South Sudanese time (2100 GMT Friday), the climax of a process made possible by the 2005 peace deal that ended a long civil war.

The South's independence follows decades of conflict with the north in which some 1.5 million people died.

Saturday's independence ceremony was held at the mausoleum of the late rebel leader John Garang, who died just months after signing the peace deal with Mr Bashir that ended Africa's longest-running conflict.

Meanwhile, in Khartoum, for most people it has been a low-key day, the BBC James Copnall reports from the northern capital.

However, scores of men gathered near the Blue Nile holding giant Sudanese flags and shouting: "Allahu Akbar [God is great]."

Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a referendum was held on independence, which was approved by more than 99% of voters.

South Sudan is rich in oil, but is one of the least developed countries in the world, where one in seven children dies before the age of five.

All you need to know about South Sudan's independence

Correspondents say keeping both the north and the south stable long after the celebratory parties have ended will be a challenge.

Fears of a new war resurfaced after recent fighting in Abyei and South Kordofan, where some 170,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Separate deals - and the withdrawal of rival forces from the border - have calmed tensions.

But the two sides must still decide on issues such as drawing up the new border and how to divide Sudan's debts and oil wealth.

Citizenship is also a key sticking point. A new law passed by the National Assembly in Khartoum has withdrawn Sudanese citizenship from all southerners.

Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa

Although they were united for many years, the two Sudans were always very different. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Map showing Ethnicity of Sudan, source:

Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.

Map showing infant Mortality in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The health inequalities in Sudan are illustrated by infant mortality rates. In South Sudan, one in 10 children die before their first birthday. Whereas in the more developed northern states, such as Gezira and White Nile, half of those children would be expected to survive.

Map showing percentage of households using improved water and sanitation in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The gulf in water resources between north and south is stark. In Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In the south, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of southerners have no toilet facilities whatsoever.

Map showing percentage of who complete primary school education in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Throughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.

Map showing percentage of households with poor food consumption in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Conflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, depend on food aid. The UN said about 2.8m people in South Sudan would require food aid in 2013. The northern states tend to be wealthier, more urbanised and less reliant on agriculture.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Well, over the next year, we shall be providing South Sudan with 90 million pounds. To quote the FCO "The funding will focus on health, education, economic and financial management, security and justice sector reform, and growth."

    Why should we lose all that for another nation?

    The leaders of South Sudan are now rejoicing as they will be getting brand new cars courtesy of the UK tax payer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    They earned it. Let's see how nationhood works for them

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I am very impressed with the out pour of congratulatory massages from world leaders,I hope and pray that these massages be turn form words to deeds.This new nation need all the help in the book,I am a Liberian & my best friend Mikael is from The republic of South Sudan,He have high expectations for his nation,let the world help these expectations to be turn into reality,It has to be now or never.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Printers of world maps and globe manufacturers everywhere are rejoicing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.


    The people of South Sudan fought for freedom, liberty and equality in Sudan, but not to get handouts. South Sudan have got resources that were used to develop only northern Sudan and South remained underdeveloped.


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