North and South Sudanese Celebrate Separation: "We Are Free"
Southern Sudan is 54th country on the African continent.
Southern Sudan officially proclaimed itself independent, separating itself from the North after five decades of conflict which plunged the country into misery, from which awaits exit, thanks to its rich oil reserves. From Friday midnight to Saturday in Juba, where the ceremony occurred, a delirious crowd celebrated the proclamation of independence. Upon the midnight bells, an explosion of joy celebrated the arrival of the first day of life of the new state.
"We are free! We are free! Goodbye to the North, welcome happiness! ", chanted in the crowd Mary Okach. “We struggled for many years and this is our day, you cannot imagine how I feel”, declared in turn the University Student Andrew Nuer, 27 years, who travelled from Cairo to attend the independence celebrations.
The noise was deafening in the capital of the new State, the sky lit up with fireworks, while cars and buses full of people drove the streets with flags of southern Sudan on their doors and windows, and the drivers sounded their horns. Hours before midnight, several world leaders, among them 30 African leaders and the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, arrived in Juba for the celebrations of the independence of the new state.
"The people of southern Sudan realised their dream. The UN and the international community will continue to support Southern Sudan, "said Ban Ki-Moon to reach the capital's airport. Sudan acknowledged on Friday, the Republic of Southern Sudan, although key issues still need to be resolved between both countries, such as the status of the disputed border provinces.
The ceremony was also attended by inhabitants of the Darfur region of Western Sudan, where civil war continues to rage. "We are here to congratulate our brothers of the South for its independence and to tell Bashir 'here is what happens when people are oppressed '," said Mohamed Jamus, from Darfur. The Sudanese President, Omar al Bashir, also attended as guest of honour. He is the subject of an arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Between 1955, a year before the independence of Sudan (until then an anglo-Egyptian colony), and 2005, southern rebels entered into two wars against Khartoum calling for greater autonomy. The conflicts had devastated much of the region, and led to millions of deaths, which led to mutual distrust between the two parts of the country.
The peace agreement signed in 2005 by rebel leader John Garang-some months before his death in a helicopter accident--and the President of the Sudan, Ali Osman Taha opened a new chapter which allowed the referendum on independence held in January this year. The southerners have chosen almost unanimously by the Organisation of an election without major incidents, and whose results Khartoum promised to respect.
The new nation must face great challenges, as clashes on the border that has already led to 1,800 deaths this year, a social indicator of the world's least developed, negotiations on the separation of assets and restructuring of industries with the North. According to sources close to the authorities involved in the negotiations, an agreement on the restructuring of the oil sector seems unlikely due to disagreements on the final status of the disputed territory of Abyei.
Tension increased on May 21, after the occupation by the northerners of this border region, forcing 117 thousand southerners to flee. An agreement was reached on 20 June to demilitarise Abyei and to deploy 4,200 Ethiopian soldiers, but the territory's future remains uncertain. A few weeks after the occupation of Abyei, South Kordofan, another border territory affected by ethnic disputes, was the scene of violent clashes between the northern forces and the armed wing of SPLM (Popular Movement for the liberation of Sudan, southern rebels) which left hundreds dead.
On Friday, the northern President, Omar al Bashir, ordered that the army continue its operations until this territory, the only Northern oil region, were "cleansed of rebels". However, many Sudanese celebrating there, mostly radical Islamists in Khartoum and some Southerners northern residents, were complaining that the vision of John Garang of the Sudan federal democratic was not materialising.
Finally, on the eve of the Declaration of Independence of the new nation, the United Nations Security Council decided unanimously to send to the South Sudan Mission, 7000 soldiers, 900 civilians and experts to contribute to the country’s reconstruction and security. The new mission was named Minus, replacing Minus, the previous UN Mission for the whole Sudan, but concentrated his forces mainly in the South of the country.