UN Security Council Votes to Bolster South Sudan

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 11:20 am (UTC-5)
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The world's newest nation will have the support of United Nations 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.

The fledgling nation is set to declare its independence Saturday with a ceremony in the soon-to-be capital of Juba. U.N. 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 earlier Friday on state television.

Preparations for Saturday's celebration also continued Friday, with performers dancing through the streets of Juba. But the 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.

Sudan fought a 21-year civil war between the north and the south that ended in 2005. Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly to split from the north in a January referendum.