South Sudan’s enemy within
By James Copnall BBC News, Khartoum
Even before South Sudan declares its independence next week, it is already fighting at least half a dozen rebel movements.
On a video recording obtained by the BBC, hundreds of southern fighters jog rhythmically in a wide circle, singing and flaunting their new weapons.
The apparently joyous scenes in the video clash violently with a bloody reality: The rebel groups have fought on numerous occasions with the southern army, and represent a great threat to the stability of the new state.
The motivations of the rebels vary, but most of their leaders are former senior officers in the southern army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), or militia leaders who fought with Sudan’s government during the 21-year year civil war, which ended in a peace deal paving the way for the south’s independence.
One of the rebel groups, Peter Gadet’s South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), says it is fighting corruption, lack of development, and the domination of the Dinka ethnic group. – More here
As South Sudan becomes new nation, old conflicts remain
By Michael Gerson
Days away from the birth of the world’s newest nation, nearly every dusty street here has a splash of flags — raised on high poles over ramshackle huts, tacked to the front of motorbuses, painted red, black, green and blue on whitewashed walls. In the public square, soon-to-be citizens practice their newly composed national anthem, accompanied by a brass band. Children in green and blue school uniforms march along the main road singing patriotic songs. But the train station near the center of Aweil provides a reminder that South Sudan’s independence is also a bitter divorce. A group of refugees sits beside the rails, surrounded by cooking pots and farm implements, their former lives carried in burlap bags. They are southerners — black and Christian or animist — who had lived in the Muslim, Arabized north.
An elderly man, Deng Deng Arop, tells me that their Arab neighbors had pressured them to leave. “They said, ‘You have to go to your own country. If you don’t go to the south, you will see what happens to you.’ ” Long lines of southerners waited to board trains. “They wanted to keep our sons by force,” says Deng, who reports that an official in charge of the refugees had prevented it. Passing through Kordofan, the southerners were given a final goodbye. Arab raiders ambushed the train, stealing grain and cash. Following the attack, Deng counted 20 dead. – More here
History is Made As Nation Becomes Independent State
Juba — Before an overflowing crowd of tens of thousands of his ecstatic countrymen, President Salva Kiir Mayardit used the historic occasion of the entry of South Sudan into the world’s community of states to tell his people that they would never again wilfully return to war.
“This is a day that will be forever engraved in our hearts. Citizens in every village and county of South Sudan are celebrating.
“We give praise to the Almighty God for making it possible for us to witness this day which we have waited for more than 56 years,” he said.
President Kiir told his war-weary citizens that the new nation, which was home to a conflict that claimed the highest number of civilian casualties since the Second World War, that South Sudan would now be a maker of peace and never a wager of war.
“We will live at peace with our neighbours in the north, east, west and south. We shall be part of endeavours to strive for freedom, dignity and peace.
“Having been at the receiving end of injustice for the better part of our post-colonial history, the people of South Sudan will never accept to be aggressors.
“We have experienced what it is to be a refugee. We hope that this has been our last war and that our people will never have to leave the country to flee from insecurity,” he said.
The new president was fulsome in his praise of neighbours such as Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia which played host to hundreds of thousands of refugees from the South during the long war and which are expected to emerge as key trading partners and strong political allies of the newest member of the East African Community. – More here
South Sudanese celebrate their divorce
By Peter Martell BBC News, Juba
With a thrilling roar of joy, at the stroke of midnight, South Sudan became the newest nation in the world.
“It is a shout of freedom,” said Alfred Tut, lifting his head back and screaming.
A digital countdown clock in central Juba was a focal point, as vehicles packed with people waving flags, toured the streets, honking horns in celebration.
“Congratulations, free at last, South Sudan,” the sign read.
The people did not need to read the message: They were already dancing and leaping into the air with happiness.
“I cannot believe we have arrived at this point of a new nation after such a long, hard road of fighting” Atem Garang
Officials had planned for people to hold a quiet celebration at home, with the formal declaration of independence later on Saturday morning.
“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,” an earlier statement from the southern government had said.
But that clearly was not enough for the people, who simply could not wait to celebrate. – More here
New nation of South Sudan to get new currency
By Maggie Fick, Associated Press
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan formed a caretaker government for the new nation Monday, and announced it will use a new currency that features the image of the deceased founder of the nation’s liberation struggle.
South Sudan became an independent country Saturday, breaking away from Sudan after more than 50 years of on-and-off war.
The country’s finance minister, David Deng Athorbie, said Monday the new currency would be called the South Sudan pound and will replace the Sudan pound currently in use. It is scheduled to arrive by cargo plane beginning Wednesday and will go into circulation next Monday. It will have a one-to-one value with the Sudan pound.
The image of Dr. John Garang, the deceased rebel leader, will adorn one side of the bills. The other sides would show images of South Sudan’s culture and wealth, Athorbie said. The bills will have watermarks and other security measures.
“I must warn those people who usually print fake currency, if they attempt it they will almost certainly be caught,” Athorbie said. – More here