JUBA, Feb 15 – South Sudan will be the name of the world\’s newest nation when it achieves international recognition in July, a top official of its ruling party said on Tuesday.
"We as SPLM leadership have taken a position that the new state… shall be called south Sudan," said Pagan Amum, secretary general of the former rebel Sudan People\’s Liberation Movement.
"This is because the people who have exercised their right of self-determination were the people of south Sudan," Amum told reporters in the southern capital, speaking during a break in talks between the party\’s top leaders, where the choice was made.
The decision must still be voted on by the southern parliament, but with the SPLM holding the vast majority of seats it seems likely the choice of name will stick.
"We will be asking the government of south Sudan, and the parliament, and our caucus of SPLM, to vote for the name of a country that will be called south Sudan," Amum said.
In a landmark independence vote last month, almost 99 percent of southerners voted to secede and split Africa\’s largest country in two.
Others suggestions for the country\’s name had ranged from Nile Republic to Cush, a Biblical reference, but south Sudan always appeared the popular choice.
Amum said the south faced many challenges and he voiced "deep pain and sorrow" that clashes last week between rebels and the southern army had killed 197. Another southern official later said the number of dead had exceeded 200.
"We are a baby nation that has just been born — and like a human baby, we are fragile but have the potential to become great," Amum said.
He said negotiations were under way with the north\’s ruling National Congress Party on outstanding issues that have to be resolved before partition.
He acknowledged that the border between north and south remains in dispute along one fifth of its length.
He said the current 50-50 sharing of revenues from southern oil exports would not continue.
"There will be no continuation of sharing wealth," Amum said, adding that the south would pay transit fees for the use of a northern pipeline to get its oil to market.
He said north and south would have separate currencies after partition in place of the existing Sudanese pound.
"The current pound will be replaced by new currencies. The government of southern Sudan has plans to introduce a new currency, and it will be called the pound."
Amum said the SPLM would split into separate northern and southern sections.
Malik Agar, SPLM stalwart and governor of Blue Nile state in the north, will be the interim chairman of the party\’s northern branch, Amum said.
The party\’s candidate for a nationwide presidential election last April, northerner Yassir Arman, will be acting secretary general until party elections can be held, he added.