AMECEA joined tens of thousands of South Sudanese and other dignitaries in celebrating the birth of a new nation ‘The Republic of South Sudan” that took place Freedom Square in Juba, on Saturday 9 July 2011.
AMECEA was represented by Rev Dr Pius Rutechura, the AMECEA Secretary General, Professor John Maviiri, the Vice Chancellor for Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) and Rev Fr Chrisantus Ndaga, the AMECEA Secretary for Social Communications, while His Eminence Cardinal John Njue was a special envoy of the Holy Father to these celebrations.
At a packed ceremony, attended by dignitaries including South Sudan leader Salva Kiir, Sudan President Omar Al Bashir, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of about 30 African nations, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan raised, evoking loud cheers from the crowd.
“We, the democratically elected representatives of the people … hereby declare Southern Sudan to be an independent and sovereign state,” said Speaker James Wani Igga.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the official ceremony: “Today we open a new chapter when the people of South Sudan claim their freedom and dignity that is their birthright.” Messages of congratulation flooded in from nations around the world including Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya and Turkey.
Waking up from a raucous street party at Friday midnight, thousands of people marched to Dr John Garang Mausoleum to witness the declaration of independence and cultural activities marking the birth of the world’s newest state.
During the event, Salva Kiir, who was sworn in as president for four years, unveiled a transitional constitution approved by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly. The president also declared the reconstitution of the Southern Sudan legislative Assembly as National Legislative Assembly.
The cheering crowd waved the national flag bearing the colours of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The new national anthem and the coat of arms bearing an image of the African fish eagle were also unveiled. The freedom parade, from the Buluk police grounds to the Dr John Garang Mausoleum, were attended by members of the SPLM, which is set to become the South Sudan Army, as well as the police, wildlife, prison, fire brigade, and scouts.
Salva Kiir, who lowered the Sudanese flag and raised the flag of the Republic of South Sudan, announced that the erstwhile flag will not be handed to the north and it will be preserved as part of the nation’s history. “The eyes of the world are now on us,” said Salva Kiir, who stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside here.
Salva Kiir said he will work to promote the private sector, fight corruption, set up government institutions and provide jobs to people and meet their basic needs. He said South Sudan requires peace in the region and called on the people of Ethiopia, Eriteria and Somalia to resolve their differences .
Kiir offered an amnesty to rebels fighting his government and promised to bring peace to troubled border areas. “I would like to take this opportunity to declare amnesty for all those who have taken up arms against Sudan,” he said.
“I want to assure the people of Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan that we have not forgotten you. When you cry, we cry. When you bleed, we bleed. I pledge to you today that we will find a just peace for all,” he said.