Sunday, July 10, 2011

South Sudan celebrates a sweet day of separation A New Nation is Born

Flag of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Mov...Image via Wikipedia
Tens of thousands watched the raising of South Sudan's flag at a ceremony in the capital city of Juba. The world's newest republic enjoyed its independence day, but bitterness over the long struggle for freedom lingers.
"We congratulate our brothers in the south for the establishment of their new state," said Bashir, taking to the podium. "The will of the people of the south has to be respected."
Congratulations flooded in from afar. David Cameron, who was represented by Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, said it was "an historic day, for South Sudan and the whole of Africa".
"Reaching this moment has required leadership and statesmanship from all sides. The actions of the government in Khartoum in recognising South Sudan's independence have been significant, and I hope that today marks the beginning of a new and peaceful chapter in relations between north and south."
The US president, Barack Obama, granted South Sudan immediate recognition as an independent state. "Today is a reminder that, after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible," he said.
In the huge crowd, where boys held up paper flags and women ululated, emotions were barely contained. "This is very great actually," said Taifa Kuer, a finance ministry official who, at the age of seven, became one of Sudan's famous "Lost Boys", marching for a month to Ethiopia before returning to fight for the rebel cause when he was just 14. "We have prepared for the next generation so they won't suffer like we had to."
Like many elated southerners, Kuer seemed stunned that the day had in fact arrived, which was perhaps unsurprising, given the mistrust that has existed between the north and south. Indeed, when Bashir and the then rebel leader Garang signed a peace deal to end the second, 21-year-long civil war in 2005, many doubted it would last. The agreement allowed for a six-year interim period where the south would govern itself, and have an equal share with the north of the revenues from the oil produced from beneath its own soil. The prize at the end of the transition was a vote for southerners on unity or secession. Garang advocated unity – the southern struggle was a struggle for marginalised people all over Sudan, he argued – but when he was killed in a helicopter crash just a few months after the peace deal the notion of unity died with him. In the referendum in January, 99% of voters chose secession.
The results spoke less of southern unity – there are dozens of ethnic groups in the south, and no real collective identity – than a desperate desire to rid themselves of the decades-long oppression and marginalisation by the northern government.
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