Juba: South Sudan`s President Salva Kiir
on Sunday told thousands of jubilant southerners that their
martyrs had not died in vain and that the newborn nation`s
Independence Day would always be engraved on their hearts.
"Our martyrs did not die in vain... We have waited for
more than 56 years for this day. It is a day that will be
forever engraved on our hearts and minds," Kiir said in a
speech that was met with roars of approval.
"A happy day like this should not dwell on bad
memories. But it is important to remember that for many
generations this land has seen much suffering."
For decades, until a peace agreement was signed in
2005, southern rebels fought successive wars with Sudan`s
northern government, leaving the region in ruins, millions of
people dead and a legacy of mutual mistrust.
The independence ceremony was held at the mausoleum of
the late rebel leader John Garang, who died just months after
signing the peace accord that ended Africa`s longest-running
conflict and opened the door to nationhood.
In his first address to an independent South Sudan,
the president called on his people to forgive those who had
caused them suffering and urged them to take responsibility
for building a "strong foundation" for their nation.
"From today onwards, we shall have no excuse for
scapegoats to blame. It is our responsibility to protect
ourselves, our land and our resources," he said.