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S. Sudan celebrates year of freedom

Updated: 2012-07-10 07:08
( Agencies)

Dancing and singing, South Sudanese on July 9 put aside dire warnings over the stability and economic viability of their fledgling nation, the world's newest, to celebrate its first year of independence.

Celebrations began at midnight as crowds took to the streets of the capital, Juba, with people crammed into cars driving around the city and honking horns to mark the anniversary of separation from former civil war foe Sudan.

S. Sudan celebrates year of freedom 

Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun (second left), Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu (right) and South Sudan Ambassador Eluzai Mogga Yokwe (second right) cut a cake to celebrate the first anniversary of the African country's independence on Monday. Cui Meng / China Daily 

"It is a good day because it's the first birthday of my country," said Rachel Adau, a nurse, who arrived soon after dawn to secure a place at the official ceremony, which took place at the mausoleum of the late rebel leader John Garang.

"Today is the day we celebrate when the people came out from the Arabs and liberated themselves," said Michael Kenyi Benjamin, a student.

South Sudan has spent the past year wracked by border skirmishes with the rump state of Sudan, as well as internal violence and the shutdown of its vital oil production in a bitter dispute with Khartoum.

While South Sudan has made progress, it remains one of the world's poorest countries, where even the most basic infrastructure, such as roads, electricity and water-distribution networks, is lacking.

The outstanding issues, including the sharing of revenues of oil, were among the most prominent differences that prevented the establishment of normal ties between Khartoum and Juba.

South Sudanese are also suffering from a lack of development and basic services, and from high prices for basic commodities.

Mohamed Hassan Saeed, a Sudanese expert, told Xinhua that "the events which followed the separation of South Sudan have proved that the security issue is still the major threat to the stability of relations between the two countries".

"Full normalization in relations between Khartoum and Juba cannot be achieved without exploring a settlement for security issues," he added.

The issues with the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas as well as oil-rich Abyei should be resolved first, and then the two sides can search for an agreement that will restore pumping of the south's oil through Sudan, he added.

He said the current disputes between Sudan and South Sudan are the result of their separation because both countries are having trouble adapting to the situation.

"The south is suffering from the difficulties of building a state from nothing under chronic tribal conflicts, scarcity of resource and a lack of infrastructures, while Sudan is suffering from economic, security and political issues," he said.