South Sudan Becomes World’s Newest Nation.
JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan became the world’s newest nation early Saturday, officially breaking away from Sudan after two civil wars over five decades that cost the lives of at least 2 million people.
Residents of the new nation – the Republic of South Sudan – danced in the streets, banged on jerry cans and chanted the name of the world’s newest president, Salva Kiir.
South Sudan earned independence at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the culmination of a January independence vote guaranteed in a 2005 peace deal that ended the most recent north-south war.
Saturday’s early morning celebrations were joyous for the freedom gained but tinged with the memories of family members lost.Chol Allen, a 32-year-old minister, escaped Sudan in 2003 and eventually settled in Memphis, Tennessee. He returned to Juba two months ago for the midnight party, though he plans to go back to the U.S.
"I came here for this moment," he said. "We were all born into war. All of us," he said while pointing at a crowded pick-up truck of youngsters. "This generation will see the hope of the newborn nation."
Abdule Taban wore a wide smile during the night’s street party, but the 25-year-old was also reflective.
"We are brothers and sisters who suffered for a long time and that’s why we are now celebrating, what we will achieve," said Taban, as South Sudanese dusted in white cow dung – a traditional camouflage here – danced around him. "In independence we are going to have hospitals and schools and a lot of development around here. Our mothers and sisters died in the past. Hospitals were very far from us."
Later Saturday, world leaders will attend a celebratory ceremony. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon already has arrived. Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also will attend, as will Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whose country already has recognized South Sudan.
John Kuach, a former child soldier who joined the army after his father died in fighting with the north, first fought at age 15. He said Saturday was a big day for the new nation.
"But some people are not happy because we lost heroes, those who were supposed to be in this celebration. So we are thinking, ‘Is this true? Is this a dream? A new country?’"