Photo Gallery Preparing for Independence in Southern Sudan

Southern Sudan will officially become an independent country this weekend and preparations are well underway for the ceremony. But the country has a long way to go to achieve peace, democracy and prosperity.
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Southern Sudan is set to declare independence this weekend and preparations are well underway. Here, a man from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement takes part in a rally in Juba on Tuesday.

Foto: Paul Banks/ dpa
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Salva Kiir is set to become the first president of Southern Sudan. In a recent meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, he insisted that his country respected human rights and democracy, despite evidence to the contrary.

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The country is expecting several international dignitaries over the weekend, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Here, a rehearsal for this weekend's ceremony.

Foto: Pete Muller/ AP
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The parade on the weekend will also include traditionally-dressed tribesmen. Southern Sudan is poor, but sits on large oil reserves. Negotiations with Sudan on how to divide oil revenues have been difficult.

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Men dancing at a rally in Juba on Tuesday. The country has little in the way of infrastructure and its education system is in a shambles.

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Children getting ready for the big day. Cleaning crews are busy sweeping up garbage from the main square and the trash is even being sorted at the university.

Foto: Pete Muller/ AP
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Children in Juba hiding from a rain storm which interrupted independence day preparations and rehearsals on Monday.

Foto: Pete Muller/ AP
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Despite Southern Sudan's looming independence, not all border issues have been resolved with Sudan. The Abyei region is still home to violence and UN peacekeepers, like this Zambian soldier, are on the ground attempting to keep the two sides separated.

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Still, a May military offensive by the northern Sudanese army resulted in thousands of displaced people, like these boys being airlifted to safety.

Foto: DPA/UNMIS/Stuart Price
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