JUBA, South Sudan — The celebrations erupted at midnight. Thousands of revelers poured into Juba’s steamy streets in the predawn hours on Saturday, hoisting enormous flags, singing, dancing and leaping on the back of cars.What a wonderful scene. Of course, this being the New York Times you have to read almost to the end of the article before you learn just why this took place.
“Freedom!” they screamed.
A new nation was being born in what used to be a forlorn, war-racked patch of Africa, and to many it seemed nothing short of miraculous. After more than five decades of an underdog, guerrilla struggle and two million lives lost, the Republic of South Sudan, Africa’s 54th state, was about to declare its independence in front of a who’s who of Africa, including the president of the country letting it go: Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, a war-crimes suspect.
Many of those who turned out to celebrate, overcome with emotion, spoke of their fathers, mothers, sons and daughters killed in the long struggle to break free from the Arab-dominated north.
“My whole body feels happy,” said George Garang, an English teacher who lost his father, grandfather and 11 brothers in the war.
By sunrise, the crowds were surging through the streets of Juba, the capital, to the government quarter, where the declaration of independence would be read aloud.
It needs to be said again and again -- "Thank You George Bush" for advancing the cause of freedom and independence throughout the world, and especially in Africa.
Christian groups had been championing the southern Sudanese since the 19th century. And their efforts paid off in 2000 when George W. Bush was elected president of the United States. He elevated Sudan to near the top of his foreign policy agenda, and in 2005, the American government pushed the southern rebels and the central government — both war weary and locked in a military stalemate — to sign a comprehensive peace agreement that guaranteed the southerners the right to secede.
On Saturday, one man held up a sign that said “Thank You George Bush.”
The American-backed treaty set the stage for a referendum this January in which southerners voted by 98.8 percent for independence.
At 1:20 p.m. on Saturday, the southerners officially proclaimed their freedom.
Read the whole thing here.
Hat Tip: Althouse
You knew this was coming..., CNS reports:
(CNSNews.com) – The important role played by President George W. Bush in setting South Sudan on the road to independence went unacknowledged by Obama administration officials at a briefing Thursday ahead of Saturday’s birth of the world’s newest sovereign nation.
While President Obama’s “steadfast leadership and personal engagement” was noted, Bush was not mentioned once during the briefing by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg.
Read it here.
No class..., no class at all.