Juba: Tens of
thousands of South Sudanese Saturday watched the raising of their
country's flag at an independence ceremony in the capital Juba,
South Sudan became the 193rd country recognised by the UN and the
54th UN member state in Africa.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and UN chief Ban Ki-moon were
among dignitaries who came for the event.
South Sudan became the world's newest nation at midnight, the
climax of a process made possible by the 2005 peace deal that
ended a long civil war, BBC said.
Sudan earlier became the first state to officially recognise its
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.
The BBC's Will Ross in Juba says the new country's problems were
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.
On Saturday, a formal independence ceremony was held at the
mausoleum of the late rebel leader John Garang, who died just
months after signing the peace deal that ended Africa's
BBC says South Sudanese flocked to the event on a baking hot day -
some of them even climbing trees to get a view of what was going
There is celebratory mood and there is a heartfelt display of
excitement mixed with relief that after so many years of feeling
oppressed the tie with the north has finally been cut, Ross says.
The Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, James Wani
Igga, read out the Proclamation of the Independence of South
Afterwards, crowds cheered as Sudan's national flag was lowered
and the flag of South Sudan was raised.
Earlier, Bashir arrived at Juba airport where he was greeted by
Kiir, BBC said.
Other attendees 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 approved by more than 99 percent of
The new country is rich in oil, but one of the least developed
countries in the world, where one in seven children dies before
the age of five, BBC said.
Unresolved disputes between the north and south, particularly over
the new border, have also raised the possibility of renewed
President Bashir, who agreed the 2005 peace deal with the Sudan
People's Liberation Army (SPLA), stressed his country's "readiness
to work with our southern brothers and help them set up their
state so that, God willing, this state will be stable and
develop", according to the BBC.