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South Sudan cleans up for independence

world Updated: Jul 07, 2011 22:51 IST
Reuters
Sudan

Southern Sudanese in the country-in-waiting's capital are sprucing up streets, confiscating black market guns and trying to impose order on frenetic traffic to make sure independence day goes smoothly on Saturday.

For many southerners, the split from the country's north represents a moment of long-awaited triumph and fresh optimism after decades of brutal civil war and perceived marginalisation.

It also brings a raft of challenges as the rickety boomtown of Juba receives scores of foreign dignitaries and the government tries to enforce its writ across a territory roughly the size of France wracked by internal rebellions and awash with guns.

Men and women with straw brushes are sweeping leaves and dust from the southern capital's streets and men in paint-stained jumpsuits are whitewashing walls. Celebratory banners hang across the city.

A red digital display in a nearby roundabout is counting down the seconds to independence. "Free at last," one message on the display flashed.

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