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South Sudan becomes world's newest nation

JUBA, South Sudan -- South Sudan became the world's newest nation early Saturday, officially breaking away from Sudan after two civil wars over five decades that cost the lives of millions.

In the new country's capital, Juba, streets pulsed with excitement. Residents danced, banged on cans and chanted the name of the world's newest president, Salva Kiir.

"Ah, I'm free," said Daniel Deng, 27, a police officer and former soldier who broke out in a wide grin.

The Republic of South Sudan earned independence at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, breaking Africa's largest country in two. It was the culmination of a January independence vote, which was guaranteed in a 2005 peace deal that ended the most recent north-south war.

After the celebrations die down, South Sudan faces an uphill climb. While oil-rich, it is one of the poorest and least-developed places on Earth. Unresolved problems between the south and its former foe to the north could mean new conflict along the new international border. -- AP

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