July 9, 2011 (JUBA) - Salva Kiir was officially been sworn-in on Saturday as the first president of the newly-created Republic of South Sudan, moments after he signed the country’s controversial transitional constitution, watched by tens of thousands of celebrating Southern Sudanese.
- South Sudan President Salva Kiir lifts South Sudan’s new constitution to the crowds of people attending an independence ceremony in Juba, on Saturday July 9, 2011. (AP)
Clad in his trademark hat Kiir repeated his offer of an amnesty to the six South Sudanese rebel groups destabilising the new nation. He urged them to join hands in the struggle to move forward the new nation.
“I want to offer public amnesty to all those who took arms against the people of South Sudan. Let them lay down these arms and help us in building this new nation,” Kiir said.
After various last years elections various aggrieved groups took up arms against the Juba government. This year a senior member of the southern army defected sighting tribalism and corruption.
Kiir downplayed the possibility that internal conflicts would tear apart the new nation, describing it was a wish for “detractors of peace, security and political stability”.
During his address, president Kiir appealed to citizens of the new republic to focus on unity based on cultural and ethnic diversity, which he said was a source of pride for South Sudan.
“You may be a Zande, Kakwa, Lutugo, Nuer, Dinka or Shiluk, but first remember yourself as a South Sudanese. There will be equal access to existing opportunities for all,” said the leader of the new Republic.
South Sudan’s president reiterated that his government would remain committed in the fight against corruption and all forms of graft. "Transparency and accountability," he said, shall form the basic foundation of the new leadership.
- A SPLA Soldier raises the South Sudan flag at the independence ceremony of South Sudan in Juba, South Sudan, on Saturday July 9, 2011. (AP)
According to Kiir, effective service delivery in the public interest will be an obligation to all civil servants and that those who are hesitant to comply will cease to be part of the new government.
“In order to move this country forward, sacrifices have to be made in public service. Those who are not ready to make this kind of sacrifice will not be part of the new government,” the president said, amidst cheers.
The new republic, he emphasised, will closely work with development partners and the international community in efforts to steer the country’s progress. South Sudan he added, will abide by the international covenants as it prepares to be part of their membership.
The president further pledged to play an instrumental role in resolving the outstanding issues of Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), citing the Abyei referendum as well as popular consultations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
He further called for a just and lasting solution to the conflicts in Sudan’s troubled western region of Darfur, oil-producing region of Abyei and southern Kordofan.
"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.
In his speech, Kiir paid tribute to fallen heroes and heroines of the new nation, saying their tireless efforts, which eventually led to the independence, were not in vain. Reciting a proverb, Kirr said, “The night may be too long, but the day
will surely come”.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
- A large crowd of South Sudanese look up at a giant South Sudan flag being hoisted during a ceremony in the capital Juba on July 09, 2011 (Getty)
Moments before the president’s speech, James Wani Igga, the speaker of South Sudan’s Parliament had officially declared the independence of
the south, according to a resolution reportedly made by the South Sudan’s Legislative Assembly on July, 07, 2011.
The occasion, which was immediately followed by the signing of the transitional constitution by the president, later climaxed with the raising of the country’s flag as the old one was lowered.
Part of the pavilion meant for the guest remained incomplete and at one moment, Pagan Amum, the Secretary General of the south’s ruling party had to request legislators and South Sudanese citizens to vacate their seats in order to accommodate guests.
Also, shortly before Sudan president, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir took to the podium, the public address system went off air, raising speculation of foul play by some southern officials.
Audio of James Wani Igga, Speaker of South Sudan’s Parliament declaring the region an independent Republic in Juba on July 9, 2011.