A billboard counts down the days before the independence referendum in Sudan's southern capital of Juba. On Sunday, millions of people in south Sudan will vote on whether to split the country in two and establish the world's newest nation.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki speaks to a group of southern Sudanese in Juba on Friday. Mbeki traveled to south Sudan in his role as the chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan.
Young Sudanese in Juba participate in a rally in support of independence. A historic 2005 peace treaty brought an end to decades of civil war between the Arab north and predominantly Christian south that killed more than 2 million people.
Southern Sudanese wait aboard a bus in the al-Andalus area outside the northern capital of Khartoum on Thursday. Some 55,000 Sudanese have returned south ahead of the election, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
The sudden influx of people has caused considerable strain on the already fragile nation. The U.N. has appealed for more than $32 million in emergency funds to help support returning southern Sudanese.
Secession supporters wave regional flags and placards upon the arrival of Sudan's President Omar Bashir in Juba on Tuesday. Bashir said he would celebrate the result of the week's referendum even if it resulted in secession.