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South Sudan becomes world's newest nation

RIA Novosti

17:36 09/07/2011

JUBA, July 9 (RIA Novosti) - The Republic of South Sudan on Saturday celebrated its first day as a nation with more than 30 African leaders and senior Western politicians, hours after jubilant crowds danced down the streets of the new capital, Juba.

Speaker of Parliament James Wani Igga pronounced the declaration of independence. Thousands cheered as the Sudanese flag was lowered and replaced with the new South Sudanese flag.

Leader of Sudan's national-liberation movement Salva Kiir Mayardit took oath as the country's new president. He will serve at this post until April 2014.

Oil-rich Sudan, Africa's largest country, has served as a 20th-century battleground for land, resources and ethnic identity.

The south's independence follows decades of civil war with Sudan's Khartoum government in which some 1.5 million people died. The new country won its independence in a January referendum in which nearly 99 percent of South Sudanese voted to separate from the north.

The ballot was mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a 2005 deal aimed at ending the long-drawn conflict.

South Sudan became the 193rd country recognized by the UN and the 54th UN member state in Africa.

President Barack Obama granted U.S. recognition of South Sudan as an independent state: "I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognizes the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011," Obama said. "Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among international dignitaries attending the celebrations, along with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Russia's special envoy to Africa Mikhail Margelov.

The UN Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to pass a resolution in order to set up a new mission to South Sudan.

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