Africa

South Sudan pound to be launched next week

  • 11 July 2011
  • From the section Africa
A man waves South Sudan's national flag as he attends the independence day celebrations in the capital Juba, 9 July 2011
Southerners fought a long war for independence

South Sudan, the world's newest country, will launch its currency next week, officials say.

The South Sudan pound will feature the image of the late John Garang, the south's most revered leader, the AP news agency reports.

A 2005 peace deal that Mr Garang signed with Khartoum paved the way for the south's independence on 9 July.

Analysts say the launch of a currency is one of many challenges facing the new East African state.

Finance Minister David Deng Athorbei said plane-loads of the South Sudan pound would arrive in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday and it would be in circulation by Monday, the AFP news agency reports.

Its exchange rate would be fixed one-to-one with the former currency, the Sudanese pound, Mr Athorbei is quoted by AFP as saying.

'First football match'

He said the South Sudan government had battled to pay salaries for June and July.

"This difficulty is related to the fact that the Khartoum government did not deliver us the physical cash," Mr Athorbei said.

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 Mr Garang, who died just months after signing the peace deal with Khartoum.

John Garang was for years the charismatic leader of the southern rebels

On Sunday evening, South Sudan played its first football match, in the capital, Juba.

However, the new national team lost 3-1 to Kenyan club side Tusker FC after taking a 1-0 lead.

South Sudan has not yet been accepted as a member of the world football body Fifa and so the match was not officially recorded.

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.

Correspondents say keeping both the north and the south stable will be a challenge.

Fears of a new war resurfaced after recent fighting in the border areas of 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.

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