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AP / The Hindu /JUBA, July 9, 2011.
South Sudanese celebrate independence at midnight in Juba. South Sudan became the world's newest nation early on Saturday - AP.
South Sudanese citizens, international dignitaries and the world’s newest president convened in the new country capital of Juba on Saturday to celebrate the birth of a nation.
South Sudan became the world’s newest country Saturday with a raucous street party at midnight.
Later, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and dozens of other world leaders will watch under a blazing sun as South Sudan President Salva Kiir hosts a noon-hour ceremony.
“Wow, this is a great day for me because it’s a day that reflects the suffering that all southerners have had for almost 50 years,” said David Aleu, a 24-year-old medical student.
The black African tribes of South Sudan and the mainly Arab north battled two civil wars over more than five decades, and some 2 million died in the latest war, from 1983-2005. It culminated in a 2005 peace deal that led to Saturday’s independence declaration.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, the former leader of the south, is also to attend Saturday’s ceremony.
Thousands of South Sudanese poured into the ceremonial arena when gates opened. Traditional dancers drummed in the streets as residents waved tiny flags. Activists from the western Sudan region of Darfur, which has suffered heavy violence the past decades, held up a sign that said “Bashir is wanted dead or alive.” Mr. Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.
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