Sunday, July 10, 2011

In South Sudan, cry of 'freedom' rings

South Sudan celebrates birth with raising of flag

JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan celebrated its first day as an independent nation Saturday, raising its flag before tens of thousands of cheering citizens elated to reach the end of a 50-year struggle.
 People gather around a statue of former Southern Sudanese leader John Garang, draped in the national flag of South Sudan, during independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. South Sudan raised the flag of its new nation for the first time on Saturday, as thousands of South Sudanese citizens swarmed the capital of Juba to celebrate the country's birth. (AP Photo/David Azia)
"The eyes of the world are now on us," said South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who was inaugurated during a scorching midday ceremony. Kiir stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside here.
Saturday meant that South Sudan and its black tribesmen would for the first time be linked politically with sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya and Uganda are already laying strong economic ties with their northern neighbor, an oil-rich country that may one day ship its oil to a Kenyan port, instead of through the pipelines controlled by Khartoum.
"From today our identity is southern and African, not Arabic and Muslim," read a hand-painted sign that one man carried as he walked through the crowds.
South Sudan first celebrated its new status with a a raucous street party at midnight. At a packed midday ceremony, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan was raised, sparking wild cheers from a crowd tens of thousands strong.More...

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