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SOUTH SUDAN, THE WORLD'S NEWEST NATION CELEBRATES

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JUBA, S.Sudan- A mood of joy and celebration swept through South Sudan capital Juba at midnight on Friday, with scenes of jubilation and sounds of church bells ringing. The celebration marks the world's newest nation by officially breaking away from Sudan after two civil wars and over five decades of conflict with the north.
Thousands of people are gathering with friends and family on the streets singing, dancing, banging drums and honking horns in celebration.
  • The main ceremony is due to include military parades, prayers, raising the newly proclaimed Republic of South Sudan's flag and Salva Kiir, the country's first president, signing the transitional constitution.
  • North Sudan's Khartoum government was the first to recognise the new state, hours before the formal split took place, a move that smoothed the way to the division of what was, until Saturday, Africa's largest country. The recognition did not dispel fears of future tensions.
  • Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of sensitive issues, most importantly the exact line of the border and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies.
  • In Khartoum, just before the split, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who now leads just the north, told journalists he would attend the independence celebrations later in the day in Juba.
  • After the stroke of midnight the Republic of Sudan lost around three quarters of its oil reserves, which are sited in the south, and faced the future with insurgencies in its Darfur and Southern Kordofan regions.
  • At the Emmanuel church in Juba, about 200 people have gathered to sing hymns and pray together.
"It means freedom, it means we are not going to be under bondage anymore and this also means the beginning of development for this country, because the resources of the south have always been used for the north," Thon Jacob, a church attendee said of the country's new independence.
Saturday's early morning celebrations were joyous for the freedom gained but tinged with the memories of family members lost.
Source: Agency
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