We are free at last! [©Roberto Schmidt/AFP]
By Job Mainye
JUBA, 9th July, 2011 [Gurtong] - It’s now official; the Republic of South Sudan has been declared as the 54th Africa’s nation, 193rd UN member State, member to the IGAG and AU and recognised by the USA, UK in a historic occasion witnessed by thousands in Juba.
By 8 am all the streets in Juba were literally leading to the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum where the formal declaration of the independence of South Sudan was made. Crowds began arriving at the venue as early as 6 am.
Long queues were formed around the venue as thousands of citizens made their way through security checkpoints into the venue.
As dignitaries were anticipated to jet in, a euphoric mood engulfed southerners who were already celebrating at fever pitch as some Government of South Sudan ministers including H.E. Pagan Amum, the minister for Peace and CPA Implementation as well as H.E. Gier Chuang Aluong, the minister for Internal Affairs arrived at the venue.
To rapturous cries and tears of joy, the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum was a sea of humanity engulfed in celebratory atmosphere as most of the international VIP guests, among them Colin Powel and Susan Rice of the USA delegation started arriving at the venue.
Between 10 am and mid day, South Sudanese officials and foreign dignitaries from Zimbabwe to Norway started trickling in.
Among the key dignitaries that arrived include; Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, The Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, President of Somalia Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, former Kenyan President Daniel Moi, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi among other premiers.
President Obama’s grandmother, Mama Sarah Obama had also arrived at the airport.
Few in the crowd had seats, or anything to shield them from the scorching sun, but no one seemed to be complaining.
Security was tight at the venue, and indeed in Juba as a whole. Private vehicles have been barred from driving on main roads in the South Sudanese capital, and dozens of police and soldiers have encircled the mausoleum.
National Anthem of the Republic of Sudan is played. Formal programme begins as Bishop Paulino Lokudu offers opening prayers, followed by Sheikh Juma then a Parade by the organized forces led by the SPLA; music by the military band follows.
The over 8 hours event which began more than an hour late first saw a parade by the SPLA after which the South Sudan Legislative Assembly Speaker James Wani Igga read the proclamation of independence, and the country's existence became official.
"We have resolved to overcome the past and face the future with a renewed sense of purpose, and it has stirred a forgiveness and reconciliation," Igga said.
The Sovereign Republic of South Sudan was then declared.
Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of South Sudan, stood side by side with Omar al-Bashir, his counterpart in the north and a long time opponent of southern independence.
A roar of approval greeted the raising of the new South Sudanese flag - the former banner of the SPLA - and the country's bouncing new national anthem quickly echoed out of loudspeakers. The crowd is electrified
The flag of the Republic of South Sudan raised; the flag of the Republic of Sudan lowered. The crowd is ecstatic. The old flag of Sudan will be kept in Juba's national archives, in recognition of the neighbouring countries' "common history"
At 1.42 pm, President Kiir decides that the flag of the Republic of Sudan will not be handed over to the representatives of Sudan but will be kept in the archives of the Republic of South Sudan as a symbol of the common history between the two countries.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit signs the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan. This constitution takes effect immediately. It is the same constitution by which the President will be sworn. Almost all countries find it a useful way to formalize rules of government by the use of the constitution.
After the proclamation and the signing of the transitional constitution of the new nation official speeches began with the President of the United Nations General Assembly Mr. Joseph Deiss who welcomed ROSS into the UN.
Minutes later, Kenyan president Hon. Mwai Kibaki delivered his speech followed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who confirmed the youngest nation to be the 193rd member to the UN family.
Other dignitaries who delivered their speeches included; the chairperson of IGAD group of countries, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Chairman of the African Union president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang; Head of Delegation China who conveyed best wishes from the people of South Asia. The crown prince of Norway, EU representative and Arab League counterpart
The UK representative, William Hague who is also the Foreign Minister of the UK delivered his speech afterwards followed by the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir coluded the session.
After the speeches, the 21 gun salute followed to crown the event.
Additional Source: NTV -Kenya