FREE at last!!

JUBA, 9 July 2011 - South Sudanese burst into the streets last night at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the birth of their new independent state. Shouts of "free at last" rent the air as multitudes of jubilant citizens waved the flag of the new country.

8.00 am - All the streets in Juba are literally leading to the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum where the formal declaration of the independence of South Sudan will be made this morning. Crowds began arriving at the venue as early as 6 am. Long queues have already formed around the venue as thousands of citizens make their way through security checkpoints into the venue.

Jubilant citizens singing in Juba


8.41 am – Dr. John Garang Mausoleum is already full with citizens, invited guests and journalists trying to get the most strategic position from which to witness this historic occasion. Dignitaries will begin arriving in about one-hour’s time but the mood is already at fever pitch.


9.00 am – 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 have arrived at the venue.


Part of the crowd that attended the celebrations.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


9.23 am – It is a carnival mood at the venue. Thousands of citizens are singing and dancing each raising miniature flags of the new Republic. Dignitaries continue to arrive.


10.55 am – The Dr. John Garang Mausoleum is a sea of humanity engulfed in celebratory atmosphere. Most of the international VIP guests, among them Colin Powel and Susan Rice, have already arrived at the venue. President Salva Kiir Mayardit is expected at the venue any time now.


11.20 am – President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria arrives at the venue.


11.36 am – Former Kenya’s President Daniel arap Moi arrives at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum for the celebrations. Mr. Moi played a key role in initiating and facilitating the arduous negotiation process which culminated in the signing of the CPA.


11.45 am – President Omar al-Bashir has landed at the Juba International Airport and so has President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya. President Obama’s grandmother, Mama Sarah Obama has also arrived at the airport.


Children were also not left behind.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


11.50 am – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma arrives at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum. Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also arrived.


11.52am – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrives.


11.57 am – President al-Bashir arrives at the venue.


11.58 am - President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda arrives at the venue.


12.10 pm – President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya arrives at the venue.


12.11 pm – President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania arrives at the venue.


12.23 pm – President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit arrives to a warm welcome.


12.28 pm – President Kiir unveils the statue of the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior erected at the late hero’s grave.


12.30 pm – H.E. Pagan Amum who is the master of ceremonies calls the meeting to order.


12.34 pm – National Anthem of the Republic of Sudan is played. Formal programme begins.


Presidents Kiir (left) and Bashir (centre) stand at attention as the national anthem is being sung.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


12.38 pm – Bishop Paulino Lokudu offers opening prayers.


12.42 pm – Sheikh Juma Said offers prayers.


12.48 pm – Parade by the organized forces led by the SPLA; music by the military band.


1.22 pm – Rt. Hon. James Wani Igga, Speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) reads the Declaration of the Independence of South Sudan.


Rt. Hon. Wani Igga reading the declaration of independence.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


1.25 pm – Sovereign Republic of South Sudan declared.


1.35 pm – The flag of the Republic of South Sudan raised; the flag of the Republic of Sudan lowered. The crowd is ecstatic. The flag of the Republic of Sudan is handed over to the representatives of the Republic of Sudan.


1.40 pm – The national anthem of the Republic of South Sudan is played. The crowd is electrified.


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.


1.47 pm – 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.


President Kiir raises the constitution after signing it.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


1.48 pm – President Kiir raises the signed constitution. The crowd becomes ecstatic.


1.53 pm – President Kiir sworn in by the President of the Supreme Court of South Sudan Justice John Wol Makec. National anthem of South Sudan is played.


1.57 pm – Speeches by heads of state and international organizations beginning with President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, chairperson of the IGAD Committee on Sudan.


2.33 pm – President Kibaki of Kenya, Mr. Joseph Deiss, the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia have delivered their speeches. Generally, they have recognized the Republic of South Sudan and wishing her peace, security and prosperity.


3.00 pm - Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Equatorial Guinea and chairperson of the African Union, Chinese representative, leader of the American delegation, crown prince of Norway and a representative of the European Union have addressed the celebrations and delivered congratulatory messages and pledges to stand by the new country.


3.03 pm – UK Foreign Affairs minister, William Hague, announces the opening of the country’s embassy in Juba and appointment of an ambassador to strengthen the bilateral links between the two countries.


H.E. Deng Alor (centre) at the celebrations. On his right is former president of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


3.22 pm – President al-Bashir is welcomed by H.E. Dr. Riek Machar, Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan to address the celebrations.


3.57 pm – President al-Bashir completes his address and congratulates the people of South Sudan for the new nation. He commends the heroes and heroines of the liberation movement among them Dr. John Garang. He salutes President Kiir for his commitment and determination in seeking and bolstering peace in the country emphasizing that he has thus won his place amongst the heroes of liberation.

4.00 pm – H.E. Dr. Machar welcomes President Kiir to address the people amidst shouts of SPLA Oyee!


Ladies celebrating independence.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


4.33 pm – President Kiir concludes his address. Hereunder are the highlights of his speech:


  1. We will support the families of the martyrs who lost their lives in fighting for the liberation of South Sudan. This independence would have not been possible without their sacrifice.
  2. We thank our friends who stood with us throughout our long struggle for freedom.
  3. We have seen many wars. We must now embrace tolerance, unity and love. Our diversity must be our strength. We must be patriotic regardless of our ethnic backgrounds.
  4. We will support regional and international peace initiatives. South Sudanese will not be aggressors. We ask Eritrea and Ethiopia to resolve their differences amicably. We also ask Somalia to seek lasting peace.
  5. We are far behind, we must now commit all our energies to socio-economic development of our country. Our lives are now in our own hands.
  6. Our government will prioritize public interest and anyone seeking personal interests will not have a place in it. Transparency and accountability will be pivotal.
  7. We will seek amicable resolution for all the outstanding CPA issues.
  8. We will abide by the international conventions.
  9. South Sudan will not be a failed state. We will resolve our issues in a friendly manner without resorting to violence. This is the last war we have fought.
  10. I declare a public amnesty for all armed groups in South Sudan.
  11. We will embrace public-private-partnership in rebuilding our country.
  12. We will support peace and seek justice for the people of Darfur, South Kordofan, Abyei and Blue Nile.
  13. Let us celebrate now but the work of nation building must begin immediately.


President Kiir addressing the gathering.
[Photo: Matata Safi]