Friday, July 8, 2011

South Sudan: the birth of a new republic

After decades of conflict with the ruling Islamic north, Sudan's southern provinces will on 9 July become an independent nation. Here, members of Britain's South Sudanese community reveal their hopes for the future

Leo Hickman, Thursday 7 July 2011 23.00 BST Article history
Martin Muortat wishes to return home to South Sudan. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Tomorrow, the Republic of South Sudan will become a newly independent nation. Last January, the overwhelming majority of its people voted in a referendum to break away from the rest of Sudan and establish an independent republic, marking the end – it is hoped – of two generations of conflict.

South Sudan, with its largely non-Muslim population, will now offer a stark contrast to the Arab, Islamic north governed from Khartoum by President Omar al-Bashir. It will be governed by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the political wing of the rebel army that fought with the north before a peace accord was signed in 2005. Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of the Southern Sudan region, must now try to rebuild a war-ravaged country, with the focus on constructing a functioning capital in Juba.

During the decades of conflict in Sudan, many people fled, citing either religious or tribal persecution. They ended up in refugee camps in neighbouring countries or found sanctuary further afield.

An 8,000-strong community of Sudanese exiles live in the UK, mostly in London. Here, six of them explain their hopes and fears for their new independent homeland – and recall the events that led them here

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