July 12, 2011 (JUBA) – Sudan’s old flag, which was lowered during the independence ceremony marking the birth of the Republic of South Sudan of Saturday, will be kept in the new country’s archives, the country’s president Salva Kiir has resolved.
The flag, initially earmarked to be handed over to North Sudan’s representative present at the celebrations will instead be retained by the new Republic for historical purposes.
“We have just got confirmation that the old flag, which has just been lowered and replaced with the new flag of the Republic of South Sudan will not be handed over to the representative from Sudan. This is what our president, Salva Kiir had resolved,” said Pagan Amum, the event master of ceremonies moments after the new flag was raised up.
However, while thousands jubilated and danced as the flag was being raised at about 1:30pm, others shed tears of joy, some even fainted.
Declaration of the new country’s independence was the outcome of the landmark January 2011 referendum, during which the southern population overwhelmingly chose separation. The vote was a key part of Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended over two decades of war between North and South. Over two million people lost their lives.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the new republic unanimously agreed on Saturday that the four copies of the country’s transitional constitution, which were signed by Kiir will each be sent to the president’s office and that of the Chief Justice, Ministry of Justice and South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) to act as “custodians” to the declaration of the independence of the new republic.
The constitution proved controversial as it grants the president the right to dismiss elected governors and representatives in the event of a national emergency. Critics including some senior figures within the ruling SPLM – including South Sudan’s vice president and speaker of South Sudan’s parliament – have said that the constitution should have been more federal and decentralised power away from the president and Juba based institutions.
Audio of James Wani Igga, Speaker of South Sudan’s Parliament declaring the region an independent Republic in Juba on July 9, 2011.