New hope for Sudan as South gains independence

15:57, July 12, 2011      

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A new country named South Sudan was born on the banks of the Nile River on July 9. Festive gun salutes echoed over the skies of Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The people of South Sudan held a grand ceremony to celebrate the founding of their country, and the national flag rose slowly during the national anthem "God Bless South Sudan."

The international community fully respects the people of South Sudan's common aspiration and their choice of independence. All nations hope that the independence of South Sudan will be the end of conflict and suffering, and the beginning of stability and development. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, government leaders and ambassadors of several countries and representatives of international organizations attended the ceremony.

South Sudan's national flag symbolizes the hopes and eager anticipation of South Sudanese toward sovereign independence. Red represents the blood of victims, green represents the lush jungle and black represents the color of citizens' skin. The white between the tree colors represents the desire for peace and the golden star on the blue triangle represents moving forward.

The formal independence of South Sudan marks a milestone in the peace process in the region. In accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 that put an end to the 22-year Sudanese civil war, southern Sudan held a referendum on Jan. 9, 2011, and the overwhelming majority of southerners voted to secede from Sudan.

As an independent sovereign nation, South Sudan covers an area of more than 600,000 square kilometers and has a population of nearly 8.3 million. It is rich in oil and enjoys great potential in agriculture, forestry, fishery and animal husbandry.

However, due to the lengthy civil war, South Sudan is now one of the least developed countries in Africa, with backward infrastructure, poor medical care, inadequate supplies of water and electricity, as well as a low educational level.

According to statistics from the Untied Nations, up to 90 percent of South Sudan's population lives below the international poverty line, and the illiteracy rate of the country stands above 85 percent. Given its weak economic foundation and unsound political structure, the top priority for South Sudan is to quickly develop its economy and improve the people's lives.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement, led by the Dinka people, the largest ethnic group in South Sudan, played a significant role in pursuing independence for South Sudan and, unsurprisingly, became the ruling party of the country.

There are more than 200 tribes living in 10 states under the jurisdiction of South Sudan. They are often drawn into disputes about religious beliefs, livestock, water sources and other matters. Furthermore, certain political forces are showing discontent with the Dinka people, who dominate the government of South Sudan, and they are seeking a greater say in state affairs. Achieving ethnic unity and national stability as soon as possible is another major challenge facing South Sudan.

In terms of foreign diplomacy, the relations between South Sudan and Sudan are of vital significance. The border between South Sudan and Sudan is as long as 2,000 kilometers. After the independence of South Sudan, its close links with Sudan are indivisible because of historical and realistic factors.

It was noteworthy that Omar al-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan, not only attended South Sudan's independence ceremony and delivered a speech but also released an executive order on July 8 taking the lead among countries in acknowledging South Sudan as an "independent and sovereign state" on July 9.

According to the executive order, Sudan's government hopes that South Sudan will become a stable and safe country and expects to establish outstanding special ties with South Sudan under the principle of cooperation, respect and good-neighborliness. The statement is of positive significance in developing the ties between the two countries.

Currently, Sudan and South Sudan still need to resolve key issues, such as border demarcation, oil revenue distribution, the claim of sovereignty over disputed Abyei area and the sharing of foreign debt. Both sides can only keep the issues from becoming "time bombs" that will lead to clashes again by prioritizing peace, showing mutual understanding and accommodation, handling disagreements in a calm and restrained manner, and persisting in resolving the issues through negotiations and consultations.

Despite such difficulties, people can reasonably believe that the Republic of South Sudan has declared independence amid a peaceful and jubilant atmosphere, and its people will surely be able to continuously accomplish new achievements in the path of national construction and development.

By Yue Lushi from People's Daily and the article is translated by People's Daily Online.

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