Birth of world’s newest nation must bring new era of peace

11 July 2011

The people of South Sudan have marked the birth of their country – and the world’s newest nation – with jubilant celebration, following more than five decades of civil war and unrest.

In ceremonies up and down the new Republic, tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to mark a day many thought would never come: the official secession of South Sudan from North.

International media reported scenes of euphoria, particularly in the new country’s official capital, Juba, where people waved flags, danced and played music until the early hours.

President Salva Kiir signed the constitution and took his oath in front of large crowds, before urging his fellow citizens not to forget the millions who had died as a result of the protracted Sudanese conflict which raged in phases between 1955-2005. More than 2 million people are estimated to have perished in the second Sudanese civil war (1983-2005) alone.

Yet, the weekend’s festivities are just the start of a long road for South Sudan. Already one of the least developed countries in the world – with one in ten children dying before their first birthday – South Sudan has a raft of issues to tackle.

In recent weeks, violent clashes in the disputed border areas of South Kordofan and Abyei have displaced tens of thousands of people and left scores dead. Though the situation has calmed, it is far from being resolved.

In addition, the new government will be charged with attempting to split revenues from oil wealth between north and south, potentially re-drawing the border and sorting out South Sudan’s virtually non-existent healthcare provisions, amongst other issues.

Despite these myriad challenges, the Socialist International congratulates the people of South Sudan on their new independence, saying:

“The fact that 99% of South Sudanese voted for freedom in January’s landslide referendum showed overwhelmingly that people wanted a clear split with the past, a new homeland and, above all, a fresh start.

SI offers its warmest congratulations to the people of South Sudan. It is our sincere hope that the violence and upheaval which has scarred these two countries – north and south – now comes to an end. Democracy is alive and well here; it needs nurturing and protecting to ensure that the next generation of South Sudanese are able to live through a new era of peace and hope.”