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South Sudan Becomes World’s Newest Nation

Celebrations erupted in South Sudan on Saturday as the world's newest nation proclaimed formal independence and turned the page on five decades of devastating conflict with the north.

"Our martyrs did not die in vain... We have waited for more than 56 years for this day. It is a day that will be forever engraved on our hearts and minds," President Salva Kiir told tens of thousands of jubilant southerners at the official ceremony in Juba.

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Bashir Orders Army to 'Clean' SKordofan of Rebels

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on Friday ordered the army to fight in South Kordofan until it has "cleaned" the border state of rebels, in a speech just eight days before the south secedes.

"I ordered the Sudanese Armed Forces to continue their operations in South Kordofan until they clean the state of rebels," Bashir told the faithful at a mosque in Khartoum during Friday prayers, in a speech broadcast on state television.

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Sudan to Appoint Vice President from Darfur

Sudan's government agreed Tuesday to appoint a vice president from the war-torn Darfur region, taking a step toward satisfying a key rebel demand for greater power-sharing, state media reported.

"The government agrees to appoint a vice president from (the) Darfur region to complete the current electoral term," SUNA news agency said in a brief statement.

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South Kordofan Accord Aims for Full Ceasefire

A deal reached this week between Khartoum and a branch of the ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement aims for a full ceasefire to end fighting in South Kordofan, an SPLM minister said Wednesday.

The two sides signed the deal on Tuesday to resolve their differences in the embattled border state, where heavy fighting has raged for around two weeks.

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U.N. Security Council Votes for New Sudan Peacekeeping Force

The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously voted to send a 4,200-strong Ethiopian peacekeeping force to the disputed Sudanese territory of Abyei.

The force will monitor the withdrawal of north Sudan troops from Abyei as well as human rights in the region.

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Obama Urges Ceasefire in Sudan's South Kordofan

President Barack Obama called Wednesday for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan's South Kordofan state, where he said the situation is "dire" with government forces accused of ethnic cleansing.

Heavy fighting in the run-up to south Sudan's declaration of independence on July 9 has pitted government troops and allied militias against forces aligned with the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

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Sudanese Rivals Sign Abyei Accord

The rival governments of north and south Sudan signed an accord Monday on the demilitarization of the disputed Abyei frontier region, mediator Thabo Mbeki told the U.N. Security Council.

The former South African president, who heads an African Union panel mediating on Sudan, said the accord had been signed "in the last hour" before his address to the Security Council by video link from Addis Ababa.

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Abyei Clashes 'Resume' on Sudan's Embattled Border

Clashes erupted in Abyei Wednesday between north and south Sudanese troops, the southern army said, just days after a deal to demilitarize the disputed area, and as Khartoum stepped up air strikes in neighboring South Kordofan.

Members of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF -- northern army) exchanged fire with the Sudan People's Liberation Army at the Kiir, or Bahr al-Arab, river, the southern army's spokesman told Agence France Presse, without providing details of casualties.

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Obama Calls for Ceasefire in Sudan

President Barack Obama is calling on Sudan's warring factions to end the bloody violence threatening a peace agreement as the south gears up for independence due in three weeks.

"There is no military solution," Obama said in an audio message recorded late Tuesday for the U.S.-funded Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting network.

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Sudan Mounts Air Strikes to 'Control Oilfields'

Sudan's army has launched repeated air strikes on the southern army in Unity state in a bid to seize oilfields there weeks before the south's independence, a southern army spokesman said Friday.

Philip Aguer, spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of the south, said the SPLA was on "maximum alert" and strengthening its defensive positions, fearing the start of an invasion to seize the oilfields.

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