Tomorrow, South Sudan will officially become an independent nation, a day that also marks the expiration of the 2005 north-south peace deal.

The UN is expected to convene next week to vote on (and most likely approve) South Sudan’s membership in the UN, making it the 193rd member country.

Back in January, almost 99% of Sudanese voters cast their ballots for independence. Almost 4 million people voted, putting turnout at 97.58 percent. 14,588 ballots were either blank or declared invalid (about 0.37% of the votes cast). The election came six years after the end of a civil war that lasted two decades, left millions dead, and traumatized millions more.

While the election itself was successfully administered, South Sudan must now face the challenge of delivering services to over 8 million people and building nationwide infrastructure in “one of the most underdeveloped countries on the planet,” where only 15% of the population can read. There is also the prospect of renewed violent conflict, both with the north as well as internally. Although applauding the election, President Obama noted that, “there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict.”

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