December 19, 2014
South Sudanese dance to celebrate independence
Thousands of South Sudanese danced in the streets to mark their long-awaited independence, a hard-won separation from the north that also plunged the fractured region into a new period of uncertainty.
The new Republic of South Sudan, an under-developed oil producer, became the world's newest nation on the stroke of midnight.
It won its independence in a January referendum -- the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north.
In the south's capital Juba, people on the corners of dirt streets waved flags and danced in the lights of car headlights, chanting "SPLM o-yei, South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei."
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) led the rebels who fought the north until 2005 and now dominates the southern government.
Thousands packed the streets of Juba and crammed into the back of trucks, setting off fireworks, banging on plastic cans and dancing.
"Free at last," said Simon Agany, 34, as he walked around shaking hands. "Coming away from the north is total freedom."
Men and women coming out of a late night church service shook hands and congratulated each other, wishing each other "Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday."