South Sudanese citizens, international dignitaries and the world’s newest president celebrated as their war-wracked nation became the world’s newest country Saturday.
Raucous street celebrations broke out at midnight. Dignitaries included U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and even former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
The predominantly Christian south and the mostly Muslim north battled over more than five decades.
Should the angry north — now deprived of its oil revenues — follow through on its threats to blockade the new nation, South Sudan can survive on credit, using its oil as collateral. The north says it will block pipelines.
Economic independence may give the new state an edge in tortured negotiations over oil rights with its old civil war foe which has received 50 percent of the revenues from southern oil for six years and which wants pipeline fees after secession.
“In case the south is forced not to export its own oil through the existing pipeline infrastructure through the north, we will use our resources to continue to live … The south can still survive without a problem,” the south’s Director General of Energy Arkangelo Okwang told Reuters.