March 22, 2011 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s cabinet has approved some of the proposed sovereignty symbols for the region, including the name of the would-be independent state, its flag, national anthem and its new currency, after long deliberations.
- The SPLA Music Band practicing the South Sudan National Anthem in Juba (Photo: Lomayat)
In an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday chaired by the region’s Vice President, Riek Machar Teny, the cabinet confirmed that the Republic of South Sudan, abbreviated as RoSS, would be the name of the country when it becomes independent in July. The name was initially approved last month during a meeting with participation of leaders from various political parties which included members of the executive.
The current flag of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), which was borrowed from the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) since 2005, was also approved by the cabinet to remain the flag for the independent country.
South Sudan gained a high degree of autonomy from Khartoum in a 2005 peace deal, which also granted the region to right to self determination in a referendum. The vote, which took place in January saw an overwhelmingly result in favour of secession from the north.
The cabinet also approved the proposed national anthem in its current form, without amendments after it received approval last week by the Southern Sudan 2011 Taskforce - a group set up to prepare the region for independence.
Minister of information and official spokesman of the government, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the cabinet would now refer the issues to the parliament for further deliberations and final endorsement.
The cabinet also approved the name of the new country’s currency, which is to be called the South Sudan Pound. Discussions on its design were deferred for next meeting when a sample design can be made available to the cabinet for reference by the minister of finance and economic planning, David Deng Athorbei.
Citizens who spoke to Sudan Tribune expressed their reactions on the proposed features in the design of the new currency.
While it was suggested by members of the committee working on the design of the currency that the face of the first chairman of the SPLM, the late John Garang de Mabior, should appear on the face of the note of the currency, others from the public say it should instead be the current President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, who will become the first President of the Republic of South Sudan 9 July 2011 that should have his face featuring on the currency.
Some others argued that the first politicians and leaders in South Sudan who initiated the southern struggle in 1947 should instead be the ones deserving the honour of appearing on the currency.
However, the majority of citizens in the public who spoke to Sudan Tribune said they rejected using the faces of individual leaders, whether past or present and preferred only historical or cultural symbols to be printed on both sides of the notes of the proposed currency.
“Why go for faces of individual leaders in the nation’s currency?” asked a student of the University of Juba, who wanted to remain anonymous.
“Historical symbols, cultural heritages and sources of our livelihood plus our beautiful rivers, mountains and forests are the common symbols that unite us as the people of South Sudan and should be the only ones featuring in the currency,” argued Thomas Laku, who works as an official in the government.
“Faces of individual leaders are not stable choices also because they would every time be subjected to replacements with new faces, depending on who comes to power and wants his or her face inserted in the currency,” he further argued.
The future of the Sudanese Pound, and what will happen in the transition before the new currency comes into circulation, is one of the issues that still need to be resolved in negotiations between Juba and Khartoum ahead of the South’s independence in July.