South Sudan Poised To Create New Nation On Sunday, millions of people in Africa's largest country begin voting on whether to split it in two. After two decades of civil war with the North, the people of southern Sudan have a chance to choose their own fate.
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South Sudan Poised To Create New Nation

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South Sudan Poised To Create New Nation

South Sudan Poised To Create New Nation

South Sudan Poised To Create New Nation

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On Sunday, millions of people in Africa's largest country begin voting on whether to split it in two. After two decades of civil war with the North, the people of south Sudan are poised to create the world's newest state.

Thousands of people pour through the streets of the southern capital of Juba in advance of the vote. They're driving in vans, they're on foot, they're waving flags and singing. The message from everyone you talk to is the same. They don't want to be a part of Sudan anymore. They want their own country.

"At last independence, at last," John Mojule laughs. "This is our time."

Mojule fled Sudan during the civil war. It was a time of incredible carnage when the Arab North armed militias that burned, raped and looted villages in the country's Christian and animist South.

The conflict cost 2 million lives and became Africa's longest civil war.

Now, Mojule is back from exile in Uganda to witness what he hopes will be the birth of a nation.

"Our people have suffered so much. So, so, much. Oppression from the Arabs. Not all the Arabs — the fundamentalists. Now, we have our opportunity to vote, then our oppressors will be gone," he says.

Just look at Juba, he says. "It's the biggest village in the whole world. No water system, not toilet, no nothing. Now, we need development."

This is the biggest complaint from southerners. They say the North exploited their resources — including oil – then neglected the region.

A few miles from the rally's excitement, the mood is more sober and southern Sudan's dire poverty and challenges come into relief. Here, the United Nation's World Food Program hands out sacks of sorghum to southerners who've just returned from the North to vote and live.

But there is no work for them here. Kator Andrato Salvatore has already gone through her first two rations and she's come to beg for more.

"I'm not sure my husband can get a job or not," she says. "Now, we're really suffering. Even the food we've received is finished. I don't know where to find more food."

Over the next week, southern Sudanese will have a chance to choose their own fate. Then, they will have to figure out how to make the most of that opportunity.