[JURIST] The Republic of South Sudan was recognized as an independent country on Saturday, making it the world’s 193rd nation. In the capital city of Juba, President Salva Kiir [BBC profile] was sworn in [Bloomberg report] for a four-year term, in which he hopes to lead the world’s newest nation into a time marked by less corruption and violence. After taking his oath, Kiir offered amnesty to rebel groups that continue to create conflict within the country. Voters living in southern Sudan overwhelmingly showed their support for the Southern Sudan’s Independence Referendum in January 2011, when it passed with 98.83 percent of the vote. In February, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who campaigned against secession, issued a formal decree [JURIST report] accepting the result of the referendum.
Tensions between the newly independent country and Sudan have been especially high as of late. Much of the recent violence stems from action in the South Kordofan region of the Sudan [BBC backgrounder] between Sudanese troops and troops loyal to South Sudan’s army. Last month, A UN official denounced continued human rights abuses [JURIST report] against civilians in the region. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs [official website] and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos [official profile] said that the UN knows of more than 70,000 people who have been displaced by the conflict, many of whom are subject to violence and targeting due to their ethnic heritage. Additionally, the UN reported that several peacekeepers had been held and tortured [UN News Centre report] in the region, and that those providing humanitarian relief are vulnerable.South Kordofan is a state in the center of Sudan, and has been a disputed territory between Sudan and South Sudan, due to its oil reserves. Despite months of negotiations, a final deal regarding how the two countries will share oil revenue has not been reached.