Juba, SOUTH SUDAN — Southern Sudanese and dignitaries from around the world watched the new flag of the Republic of South Sudan be raised for the first time at independence celebrations in the new country’s capital, Juba, on Saturday.
The crowd turned ecstatic as the flag was raised while the old one was lowered.
South Sudan became the world’s newest country on Saturday.
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, signed the transitional constitution and then took the oath of office with his hand on the document.
Moments earlier, James Wani Igga, the speaker of the legislative assembly, read aloud the proclamation of independence to cheers from the crowd.
“We have waited for this day for 56 years,” said James Makuach, who was among the tens of thousands of Southern Sudanese gathered under a blazing sun.
“I have only seen war, so this is an emotional moment for me. No more war,” he added.
Northerners and southerners were engaged in a two-decade long civil war that left around 2 million people dead. That conflict ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Funny how most articles omit some tiny details about the warring. Of all places, AOL speaks what can not be spoken.
A civil war between Arabic-speaking Muslims in the north and Christians in the south - not to mention a plethora of smaller but no less deadly conflicts - made southern Sudan a destination for UN peacekeepers and kept it well off the tourist map for the last decade.
The new country is hardly peaceful, but the erasure of borders drawn arbitrarily by colonial powers fuels hope that the racial and religious tensions that drove the conflict could be eased.