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Final festivities in southern Sudan ahead of referendum

media Thabo Mbeki delivers a public lecture at the Nyakuron cultural centre in … Reuters/Phil Moore

Reporting from Juba -
In the southern Sudanese capital, Juba, final festivities have been taking place as the region prepares for Sunday’s referendum on self-determination. With the overwhelming majority of political parties, civil society and religious groups heavily campaigning for separation, the festivities are being seen as the last big celebration before freedom.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki gave a public lecture on the challenges of new nationhood at the Nyakurwon Cultural centre, which has been a beehive of cultural festivities, with the climax Friday being an evening-long concert named ‘The Final Walk’.

The organisers see this as a prelude to the birth of the 54th member state of the African Union.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

Nine out of ten cars are bedecked with posters with the flag of south Sudan and the mark of the raised palm, a symbol of voting for secession.

Referendum officials say all is set for the historic exercise. To give it a grand mark of international approval, besides key American officials already in Khartoum, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected this weekend. It would be the first such high0level visit to a state which is not yet officially independent.

Through the weekend most high-ranking government officials will leave Juba to go and vote in their respective states where they initially registered to vote, and also to encourage a massive turn-out during the first days of the week.

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