United Nations Peacekeepers will arrive in Sudan on Saturday, in an attempt to make sure that South Sudan's July 9 Independence Day is a peaceful, joyous event.
In Juba, South Sudanese people, who are about to become citizens of the world's newest country, are already celebrating in advance of tomorrow's grande fête. People danced in the streets and tribal groups practiced their Saturday parade march.
But in a country whose history is so fraught with violence and civil war, there is always a restless undercurrent. Over the past few weeks, tension has mounted between North and South Sudan, and there have been many military clashes along their soon-to-be official border. The Northern army recently invaded the disputed region of Abyei, which the South was slated to take after its secession.
Although a ceasefire has been agreed upon, nearly 8,000 peacekeepers will arrive in Sudan on Saturday and stay for as long as a year.
The United Nations will continue its support to the government of Sudan, the government of South Sudan and to the people of Sudan as a whole through its agencies, funds and programs, a new mission in South Sudan and a new mission in Abyei, said Haile Menkerios, the top U.N. envoy in Sudan.
The troops will augment a 4,200 person-strong Ethiopian peacekeeping force charged with protecting Abyei from further bloodshed.
South Sudan will officially become a new nation at midnight on Friday. As part of the 2005 treaty ending a decades long civil war, Sudan's President Oman al-Bashir allowed the people of South Sudan to vote on whether or not they wanted to be independent. In January of this year, 99 percent of voters said they wanted freedom from their Northern neighbors.
Despite his recent military intrusion, President Bashir has been invited to the Independence Day festivities in Juba, the world's newest capitol city.
Bashir, who said he will attend the event, will be the guest of honor.
The Sudanese government officially recognized South Sudan's statehood Friday afternoon.
The Republic of Sudan declares that it recognises the state of South Sudan from July 9, said Khartoum's Minister for Presidential Affairs Bakri Hassan Saleh.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also attend the July 9 ceremonies.