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Independence day of South Sudan is 9 July 2011 - South Sudan backs independence - South Sudan celebrates as independence vote confirmed - South Sudanese dance to celebrate independence

Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence, election officials have confirmed.
They said nearly 99% of the voters in January's referendum were in favour of dividing Africa's biggest country.
Earlier, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir again said he would accept the outcome of the vote.
The poll was agreed as part of a 2005 peace agreement ending more than two decades of civil war between the south and north Sudan.
Although the vote was peaceful, tension remains high in parts of the oil-rich border region.
At least 50 people were killed over the weekend in fighting between soldiers in south Sudan's Upper Nile state.

The speakers were crackly and the outdoor cinema screen flickered in Southern Sudan's capital, Juba.
Those at the back in the dark of the giant thousand-strong crowd could hardly make out what was being said.
But for the southerners gathered to watch the results of their historic independence referendum, only one message mattered: the confirmation that the south will become a nation of its own.
As the result was confirmed, that 98.83% of the voters had backed independence, those at the front leapt up, waving flags and cheering.
Those at the back, hearing the shouts of delight, began to dance.
"We are free, we have won our independence!" shouted former soldier William Machar.
"This is our moment in history, when we watch our baby-nation being born."
Juba residents flocked to the grave of former rebel leader John Garang, the first president of the south, to hear the results broadcast live from Sudan's capital, Khartoum.
Hundreds sat on plastic chairs, craning their heads forward to hear the historic words.

As South Sudan’s independence nears, UN gets ready for next phase of its role

5 July 2011 – 
Four days before South Sudan becomes independent from the rest of Sudan, the United Nations is preparing for the next phase of its role in the region, both on the ground and at Headquarters in New York with the potential addition of a new Member State.

Top UN officials, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will attend Saturday’s independence celebrations in Juba, the capital of the new country – born out of a UN-backed peace process that ended the long-running north-south Sudanese civil war.

The mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) – which was created in the wake of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) – expires on Saturday and a new UN operation is expected to take the place of the peacekeeping operation.

Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month, told reporters today that Council members are having intense discussions on what form and shape the new mission will take. He said a vote is expected later this week.

Mr. Wittig said the Council will also meet on 13 July, four days after independence, to discuss whether to recommend to the General Assembly that South Sudan becomes the 193rd Member State of the UN. The last country to be admitted as a Member State was Montenegro, in 2006.

In Juba, where authorities have been holding rehearsals for Saturday’s celebrations, David Gressly, UN Regional Coordinator for South Sudan, told reporters that UNMIS had posted many achievements since it started six-and-a-half years ago.

He cited the support given to the north and south so they could implement the CPA, the role of the UN as an intermediary during disputes between the two sides, the disengagement of the two armies, the training of tens of thousands of police officers in South Sudan, and the assistance in the staging of landmark elections and the independence referendum.

“My colleagues’ efforts made a significant contribution to maintaining the overall peace and stability of the past six years, which have brought us to where we are today as the countdown to South Sudan’s independence enters its final phase,” Mr. Gressly said.

But he also noted the continuing violent clashes between various ethnic groups in South Sudan and between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which fought the civil war, and rebel militia groups.

Mr. Gressly’s concerns were echoed by UN humanitarian agencies, which have also warned that “a significant number” of southerners are stranded in the north in difficult conditions, seeking a way home.
Dominik Bartsch, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva that between 1.5 and 2 million southerners have been residing in the north. Some 300,000 have already returned.

“Unfortunately, significant numbers of southerners remain stranded en route, notably in Kosti, a way station on the Nile River where 16,000 people are residing in a transit centre originally built for 2,000 people, making conditions at the site were very difficult,” he said.

Mr. Bartsch said a group of some 17,000 southerners was still in Khartoum, many waiting for the transport to the South they have been promised, but which has not been provided due to capacity reasons.

“As a result, many people are now sitting on street corners… after selling their belongings, waiting for transport to arrive,” he added. “Many of these people who were born in Khartoum now find themselves in a situation where they have no assurance about their future status in Sudan. While statelessness is often treated as an issue of legal finesse, this was of direct concern for hundreds of thousands of southerners in the north who must decide whether or not they would travel to the south.”

Mr. Bartsch said UNHCR welcomed the independence of South Sudan, adding that the agency wished to underscores “the south has a number of hotspots, areas where inter-communal violence, ethnic clashes and active military insurgencies are taking place.”

“There are concerns that these hotspots could generate internal displacement and, in the worst case, prompt refugees to cross the border,” he said.
Emilia Casella, a spokesperson for WFP, said the agency welcomed South Sudan’s independence, “as peace is important to maintaining food security.”

Ms. Casella said a barge had departed yesterday from a location south of Khartoum and would head up the Nile River with new replenishments of food, with the aim of arriving in Juba by 12 July.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP), which recently completed food distributions to 900,000 people in the south, has sent a barge full of food from near Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, up the Nile River to Juba.

Thousands of South Sudanese danced in the streets on Saturday to mark their long-awaited independence, a hard-won separation from the north that also plunged the fractured region into a new period of uncertainty.

The new Republic of South Sudan, an under-developed oil producer, became the world's newest nation on the stroke of midnight.

It won its independence in a January referendum -- the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north.

In the south's capital Juba, people on the corners of dirt streets waved flags and danced in the lights of car headlights, chanting "SPLM o-yei, South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei."

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) led the rebels who fought the north until 2005 and now dominates the southern government.

Thousands packed the streets of Juba and crammed into the back of trucks, setting off fireworks, banging on plastic cans and dancing.

"Free at last," said Simon Agany, 34, as he walked around shaking hands. "Coming away from the north is total freedom."

Men and women coming out of a late night church service shook hands and congratulated each other, wishing each other "Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday."

Among the revellers was South Sudan's information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who told Reuters: "It is already the ninth so we are independent. It is now."


North Sudan's Khartoum government was the first to recognise the new state, hours before the formal split took place, a move that smoothed the way to the division of what was, until Saturday, Africa's largest country.

The recognition did not dispel fears of future tensions.

Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of sensitive issues, most importantly the exact line of the border and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies.

At the stroke of midnight the Republic of Sudan lost around three quarters of its oil reserves, which are sited in the south, and faced the future with insurgencies in its Darfur and Southern Kordofan regions.

In Khartoum, just before the split, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who now leads just the north, told journalists he would attend the independence celebrations later in the day in Juba.

"I would like to stress ... our readiness to work with our southern brothers and help them set up their state so that, God willing, this state will be stable and develop," said Bashir.

Analysts have long feared a return to civil war if disputes are not resolved.

Southern officials said the birth of the new nation would take place at midnight from July 8 to 9, followed by a formal independence ceremony later on Saturday.

According to the official programme, a formal Proclamation of the Independence of South Sudan will be read out by southern parliament speaker James Wani Igga at 11:45 a.m. (0845 GMT). Minutes later Sudan's national flag will be lowered and the new flag of South Sudan will be raised.

"At midnight, bells will be rung across the new country, and drums will be sounded, to mark the historic transition from southern Sudan to the Republic of South Sudan," a statement from the southern government said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Juba on Friday he was confident South Sudan would soon join the global body.

"South Sudan begins life as a state facing enormous challenges. But South Sudan has remarkable potential, with natural resources, huge amounts of arable land and the waters of the White Nile flowing through it."

Earlier in Khartoum, Ban urged the northern government to allow U.N. peacekeepers to stay beyond the end of their mandate to monitor the situation in Southern Kordofan, the north's biggest remaining oil producing state, and other hotspots.

The mandate of UNMIS, which has deployed 10,000 peacekeepers in Sudan and was set up to monitor the cease-fire, expires on Saturday.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to establish a new mission in South Sudan called UNMISS, with up to 7,000 U.N. peacekeepers and an additional 900 civilian police.

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