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South Sudan

Republic of South Sudan

Last modified: 2023-11-18 by bruce berry
Keywords: sudan | south sudan | splm |
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image by Martin Grieve, 01 Sept 2011 See also:


Following the signing of a peace accord between the government of Sudan and the rebel forces of the South in Nairobi 09 January 2005. There is a report  from The Nation (Nairobi, Kenya) saying that under the accord, the South will not only enjoy political autonomy and the prospect of an independence referendum, but that the South is also entitled to fly a distinct flag. The flag is described as follows:

"The south will have a new flag that closely resembles Kenya's in its features and colours. A black stripe at the top represents the identity of the eight million people. There is a star against a blue background representing the River Nile. It signifies a future with optimism for the people of southern Sudan. Red stands for the blood shed by the southern Sudanese in the 21 years of armed conflict while green stands for the region's agricultural potential."

It is not clear whether this describes the flag of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), although this is the most straight forward interpretation, the description may stand for some other design as well. Photographs forwarded by various news services showed the SPLM flag being flown in the celebrations following the peace treaty. The status of the Southern Sudan region is not yet clear not it is guaranteed that the agreement shall be implemented.
Jan Oskar Engene, 10 January 2005

Africa's newest state comes into being today with the independence of South Sudan. South Sudan voted for secession and independence from Sudan in a referendum on 09 January 2011. The referendum was a condition of a peace agreement between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) and the Government of Sudan which was represented by the National Congress Party. The agreement ended Africa’s longest running civil war. The Machakos Protocol, signed between the Government and SPLA in 2002, provided for the south to seek self-determination after six years. This was followed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 09 January 2005. The CPA is a set of protocols which includes a permanent ceasefire, developing democratic governance and accords on wealth and power sharing. In terms of the CPA, and based on the outcome of the referendum, independence was proclaimed on 09 July 2011.

The accord also allowed the Government of South Sudan to fly a distinctive flag which is now flown as the national flag of Africa's newest state - the Republic of South Sudan. The flag comprises three horizontal stripes of black, red and green, separated by white fimbriations. At the hoist is a blue triangle in the centre of which is a yellow five-pointed star pointing to the upper hoist The black stripe symbolises the 8 million people in South Sudan and while the yellow star symbolises a future with optimism for the people of South Sudan and the blue background represents the Nile River. Red stands for the blood shed during the 21 years of armed conflict while green stands for the region's agricultural potential.
Bruce Berry, 08 July 2011

Flag of South Sudan

According to CIA-The World Fact Book, the flag of South Sudan is described as follows:

"Three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green; the red band is edged in white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side contains a gold, five-pointed star; black represents the people of South Sudan, red the blood shed in the struggle for freedom, green the verdant land, and blue the waters of the Nile; the gold star represents the unity of the states making up South Sudan".

The design resembles the flag of Kenya and it is one of only two national flags to display six colours as part of its primary design -  the other being the flag of South Africa.
Cai Zhenyuan, 12 Aug 2011

There is a description of symbolism of South Sudanese flag on the official website of the Government of South Sudan (GOSS):

"Black represents the black African people of Southern Sudan. White represents Sudan peace for which many lives have been lost. Red represents the blood of the gallant freedom and justice fighters who have been lost in the many years of conflict. Green represents agricultural potential exemplified by the fertile soil and rich equatorial vegetation adorning the Southern Sudan countryside. Blue represents the River Nile, which is the main source of life not only in the Southern Sudan but also in the North and all the way to Egypt. The Star - represents unity of the states of Southern Sudan. The flag, therefore, signifies one nation of black Africans united in the struggle to perpetuate peace and prosperity for all the people of Southern Sudan."
Zoltan Horvath, 11 Jan 2011

image by Martin Grieve, 01 Sept 2011

The flag hoisted outside the United Nations headquarters has an upright star as seen in this photo. It seems to have a lighter blue triangle than shown in other photos.
Helge Jacobsen, 13 Aug 2011

The official website of Government of the Republic of South Sudan shows the national flag and coat of arm images as its State Symbols. 

The flag has light blue triangle and straight yellow star just like flag hoisted at UN.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 01 Sept 2011

The Chief of State Protocol at the Office of the President of the Republic of South Sudan issued on 22 October 2012 a document called "Restrictions on the use of the Seal of the Republic, the National Coat of Arms, the Presidential Flag & the National Flag" which is available here.

We learn from this document that there are a National Flag Act (2011) and a National Coat of Arms Act (2012) but no text is provided.
Jos Poels, 31 Oct 2012

A communication from the South Sudan Media Authority dated 25 August 2023 confirmed that the star points directly upwards and that the blue must be sky (or light) blue and not navy blue.
Kuol Ayuen, 30 Oct 2023

Coat of Arms and Seal

image located by Zoltán Horváth, 06 Jan 2011

According to the Government of South Sudan website, the prominent feature of the coat of arms is the African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), which is common in most areas of South Sudan. It symbolizes vision, strength, resilience and majesty. The eagle is leaning against a traditional shield and crossed spear and spade which symbolize the people’s resolve to protect the sovereignty of their republic and work hard to feed it.
Bruce Berry, 16 Aug 2011

image sent by Erwin Hoheisel, 26 July 2011

The African fish eagle also features prominently in the State Seal as shown above.
Erwin Hoheisel, 26 July 2011

Adoption of National Symbols

According to the various reports in the media and interviews with the officials of  the Government of South Sudan, the name of the new country will be "The Republic of South Sudan" with the door open for the eventual change in the future. The flag, Coat-of-Arms, and anthem, are still under discussion and would be decided before February 14.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 25 January 2011

South Sudan gained its full autonomy through a Referendum held between 09 and15 January 2011, the result being released by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission.  98.83%) of the people voted in favour of independence. This new country will be named South Sudan and will obtain independence on 09 July 2011. The name decision was announced after a meeting of the top committee of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

Following the 2011 independence referendum the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the armed wing of the SPLM, will become the national military force of the Republic of South Sudan.
Esteban Rivera, 16 Feb 2011

The "Sudan Tribune" (16 February 2011) reports that:

"Leaders of political parties at a meeting in Juba have unanimously agreed that the new state to be created in the region will be be called the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS). [...]
In a separate press conference on Wednesday, the minister of Peace and CPA Implementation, Pagan Amum, who also serves as the SPLM’s secretary general, said that the emerging independent state will be formed on inclusivity of all the political parties in order to achieve a smooth transition. He said the SPLM’s political bureau, the highest political body of the party, also approved the name of the Republic of South Sudan for the new state on Monday. Amum also added that the party preferred the SPLM flag, which has already been serving as an interim flag for the Government of Southern Sudan, to remain as the national flag of the new independent state. It will however be subjected to endorsement by all the political parties and after which the political decision will be presented to the parliament for further deliberations and final endorsement.",38012
Ivan Sache, 17 February 2011

On 22 March 2011, the cabinet of South Sudan "approved some of the proposed sovereignty symbols for the region, including the name of the new independent state, its flag, national anthem and its new currency, after long deliberations."

The flag is that of the SPLM of 2005 which has been used an interim flag by GOSS. No word about the coat of arms.,38367
Chrystian Kretowicz, 24 March 2011

There was a call for proposals for a new coat of arms for the Republic of South Sudan, as can been found on the website of the Government of Southern Sudan:

Design for Coat of Arms advert
JUBA, 17 March 2011 - The Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), wishes to invite artists and thinkers to design various symbols of authority, including the Coat of Arms, of the new Republic of South Sudan. Please, click here for the details.
Jos Poels, 24 March 2011

Variations of the flag

image by Bruce Berry, 08 July 2011

There seem to be several different variants of the national of South Sudan flag.  While most flags at the independence party showed a dark blue triangle with a star, pointing to the corner, some had a star which points straight up.
J. Patrick Fischer, 30 Aug 2011

image by Martin Grieve, 01 Sept 2011

Variant showing star pointing towards the top-left hand corner.
Martin Grieve, 01 Sept 2011

Transitional Constitution

On 09 July 2005 John Garang took the oath in Khartoum as the Vice-President of Sudan. It had not been done in Khartoum for the last 22 years. Until recently, Colonel John Garang was the leader of the rebellion of the Animists and Christians of the south of the country against the Islamic regime of General Omar Al-Bashir. According to the peace treaty signed in January 2005, Garang left his title of Colonel and will go back to Juba, his capital city. A transition Constitution was adopted on 06 July 2005; accordingly, Garang's movement (the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement) is now a political party with 28% of the seats in the Parliament. Al-Bashir's National Congress holds 52% of the seats, the northern opposition 14% and the southern opposition 6%. General elections shall take place in four years. In six years, the people from the south shall decide to stay in the Sudanese Confederation or to leave.

According to the transition Constitution, the south will have its semi-autonomous Parliament and government, its Constitution, army, banks, courts and "national" anthem and flag.

John Garang was born in 1945 in the southern city of Bor, in the Dinka country. He studied economy in Iowa (USA) and joined the Anya-Nya insurrection in 1970. Peace was signed two years later and Garang was appointed Colonel in the Sudanese Army, after an infantry training in Fort Benning, Georgia (USA). In September 1983, General Jaafar Nimeyri, then ruler of the country, sent the army to repress an insurrection against the Islamic law in the city of Bor. The 105th Battalion and his commander, John Garang, deserted, and formed the core group of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. In 1991, the rebels were repelled southwards by Al-Bashir's militia and the movement split between the Dinkas and the Nouers.
After Monique Mas, Radio France International, 08 July 2005, Ivan Sache, 12 July 2005

The parts relative to flags (courtesy of Jos Poels) read as follows:

2005, July 9

Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan
Part One - The State, Constitution and Guiding Principles
Chapter I - The State and the constitution
Article 9 - National Symbols
The law shall specify the national flag, national emblem, national anthem, public seal, medals, national festivals and commemorations of the State;

Article 5
Schedule A: National Powers
Exclusive competencies (Legislative and Executive Powers) of the National Government.

24. National Flag, National Emblem and National Anthem;
Schedule C: Powers of States
Exclusive executive and legislative competencies of the individual States of Sudan shall be as set out hereunder:-

45. Flag and emblem.
Christopher Southworth, 12 July 2005

Flag of South Sudan at the Funeral of the Sudanese Vice President

The New York Times (02 Aug 2005) shows the coffin of the South Sudanese leader (and overall Sudanese Vice President) covered with the "New Sudan Flag" (yellow star version). The online version interestingly shows the coffin covered with two overlapping flags, the hoists at opposite ends and the top stripe on both sides.
Nathan Lamm, 02 Aug 2005

Flag history overview


South Sudan became independent after 44 years of armed struggle.  An overview of the flags which played a role in the war of independence can be found on this website.
Jos Poels, 16 Mar 2013