Celebrations were held in Juba on Saturday 9th July 2011 to mark the official independence of Southern Sudan. International dignitaries including UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, were present for the ceremony in the new capital.
Gunilla Carlsson, the Swedish Minister for International Development & Cooperation was present for the festivities and a statement from Carl Bildt said that Sweden was looking forward to establishing diplomatic relations with the country.
In accordance with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, South Sudan held a referendum in January 2011, in which an overwhelming majority voted for independence. President Salva Kiir is now the head of the world’s youngest state.
US President, Barack Obama, said on the occasion:
“I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognizes the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011. After so much struggle by the people of South Sudan, the United States of America welcomes the birth of a new nation.
“Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. 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 realized by so many millions of people. The eyes of the world are on the Republic of South Sudan. And we know that southern Sudanese have claimed their sovereignty, and shown that neither their dignity nor their dream of self-determination can be denied. “
The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, extended the felicitations of the British people:
“Today the Republic of South Sudan becomes independent, and the world’s newest country. This is an historic day, for South Sudan and the whole of Africa. The UK is proud to have been a witness to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to be among the first to recognise South Sudanese independence. We welcome South Sudan into the community of nations and look forward to building ever stronger links between the UK and South Sudan in the months and years ahead.”
Communities and officials from around the world joined Sweden in congratulating the Republic of South Sudan on achieving independence. Even religious leaders from the United States sent their good wishes:
“The Holy Synod of the Œcumenical Canonical Orthodox Church Worldwide (ŒCOCW) joins the family of faith and family of nations in celebrating the wonderful God given gift of freedom that includes religious and national self expression.”
The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, held talks this week with both the President of Sudan, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, and the First Vice President, now President, Salva Kiir Mayardit. The conclusion of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement still leaves several issues in Sudan, including the disputed region of Abyei, which Ethiopia will secure by sending 4,200 troops.
The United Nations Security Council has pledged 7000 troops and 900 police to help keep the peace in Southern Sudan for the first year of its independence. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon extended a cautious welcome to the new nation of Southern Sudan:
“We gather in celebration, but we are mindful of the enormous challenges ahead – deep poverty, lack of basic infrastructure and institutions of government, political insecurity.
“And yet, at the same time, we must not underestimate South Sudan’s remarkable potential – its resilient and talented people, abundant natural resources, huge areas of arable land, and the great Nile running through it. With these assets, South Sudan could grow into a prosperous, productive nation capable of meeting the needs of its people.”
Fighters from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement who still reside in Northern Sudan will be integrated into the armed forces there or else disarmed, according to a Framework Agreement, signed at the end of June 2011 in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states are still due to hold referenda on whether to join Northern or Southern Sudan or to become independent.
The East African body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), echoed the sentiments of the UN and other countries in congratulating the leaders of the two Sudans “for their exemplary leadership, courage and commitment to peace; as well as the people of the Sudan in deciding their collective destiny”. The communiqué from the members of IGAD also called on the successor states to “continue cooperative relations and ensure two viable states”.
Concern was expressed about the outstanding issues in the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, but the body was upbeat, with many members and a delegation from the committee planning to attend the rally and swearing in of the new President at the Dr. John Garang Memorial Park in Juba on Saturday.