Juba: South Sudan has become the world’s newest nation, the climax of a process made possible by the 2005 peace deal that ended a long and bloody civil war. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are among international dignitaries attending celebrations in the capital, Juba.Sudan earlier became the first state to officially recognise its new neighbour.
The south’s independence follows decades of conflict with the north in which some 1.5 million people died.
Celebrations in Juba began at midnight (2100 GMT). A countdown clock in the city centre reached zero and the new national anthem was played on television.
South Sudan became the 193rd country recognised by the UN and the 54th UN member state in Africa.
The new country’s problems have been put aside for the night amid an air of great jubilation.
People were in the streets, cheering, waving South Sudan flags, banging drums and chanting the name of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, he adds.
A formal independence ceremony is due to be held later on Saturday.
The Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, James Wani Igga, is expected to read out the Proclamation of the Independence of South Sudan at 1145 (0845 GMT). Minutes later Sudan’s national flag will be lowered and the new flag of South Sudan will be raised.
In addition to Bashir and Ban, attendees will include former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the US permanent representative to the UN, Susan Rice, and the head of the US military’s Africa Command, Gen Carter Ham.
Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a referendum was held on independence, which was favoured by more than 99% of voters.