South Sudan Becomes Newest Nation

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 5:45 pm (UTC-5)
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South Sudan has become the world's newest nation, officially splitting from Sudan after a vote for independence.

The change took place just after midnight local time Friday, leading residents in the new capital, Juba, to dance in the streets.

Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly to split from the north in a January referendum that was guaranteed under a 2005 peace deal. That agreement ended more than two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan.

The fledgling nation is set to hold an official ceremony in Juba Saturday to declare independence. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to attend, along with some 30 African heads of state, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Already, South Sudan has been recognized by its northern neighbor. Sudan's minister for presidential affairs, Bakri Hassan Saleh, made the official announcement Friday on state television.

The world's newest nation will also have the support of U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. Security Council Friday unanimously approved the deployment of up to 7,000 military personnel as well as 900 international police for South Sudan.

Saturday's festivities belie (run counter to/or contradict) the challenges the new nation will soon face.

South Sudan is still trying to disentangle itself from Sudan and the two sides have yet to resolve issues on borders and oil revenue. Sudan's army is currently fighting pro-southern Sudan elements in the northern-controlled state of Southern Kordofan.

On Thursday, Sudan's army demobilized 15,000 troops considered to be southerners at a ceremony in Khartoum.