(photo credit: REUTERS)
The South Sudanese parliament speaker read out the formal declaration of independence for the Republic of South Sudan on Saturday, the final step in a 2005 deal that followed decades of war between the north and south.
"We, the democratically elected representatives of the people, hereby declare Southern Sudan to be an independent and sovereign state," speaker James Wani Igga said, reading the formal proclamation of independence.
:South Sudan counts down the hours to independenceWeeks before independence, South Sudan is teetering
Thousands of South Sudanese danced in the streets
earlier on Saturday to
mark their long-awaited independence, a hard-won separation from the
north that also plunged the fractured region into a new period of
The new Republic of South Sudan, an under-developed oil producer, became the world's newest nation on the stroke of midnight.
It won its independence in a January referendum -- the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north.
In the south's capital Juba, people on the corners of dirt streets waved flags and danced in the lights of car headlights, chanting "SPLM o-yei, South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei".
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) led the rebels who fought
the north until 2005 and now dominates the southern government.
Thousands packed the streets of Juba and crammed into the back of
trucks, setting off fireworks, banging on plastic cans and dancing.
"Free at last," said Simon Agany, 34, as he walked around shaking hands. "Coming away from the north is total freedom."
Men and women coming out of a late night church service shook hands and
congratulated each other, wishing each other "Happy Birthday, Happy
Among the revelers was South Sudan's information minister, Barnaba
Marial Benjamin, who told Reuters: "It is already the ninth so we are
independent. It is now."
North Sudan's Khartoum government was the first to recognize the new
state, hours before the formal split took place, a move that smoothed
the way to the division of what was, until Saturday, Africa's largest
The recognition did not dispel fears of future tensions.
Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of
sensitive issues, most importantly the exact line of the border and how
they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies.
At the stroke of midnight the Republic of Sudan lost around three
quarters of its oil reserves, which are sited in the south, and faced
the future with insurgencies in its Darfur and Southern Kordofan