Equatorians hold pre-independence conference
Held under the theme "Justice, Unity and prosperity", the event was opened by Central Equatoria State Governor Clement Wani Konga, who said it was convened to cement traditional ties of Equatorian people.
"The independence of South Sudan will lead us to a new and challenging era that requires shared vision and participation of all the citizenry," Governor Wani said.
Also attending the conference were the governors of Western and Eastern Equatoria, state and regional government officials, representatives of Equatoria in the Diaspora, and members of the diplomatic corps as well as non-governmental organizations.
"It is time for us to see which direction we are heading to before the birth of the nation," said Western Equatoria State Governor Joseph Bakasoro. "If we don't get it right now then we will not get it in future, so we have to prepare ourselves, put our minds together for the bright future of our new nation."
Eastern Equatoria State Governor Lobong Lojore said, "Today we have gathered here after achieving our ultimate goal as Equatorians, regardless of our ethnicity, political and religious affiliations, to present our political and economic expectations before ... when the new state emerges."
Southern Sudan will become a new nation on 9 July, after its population voted overwhelmingly for separation in a January referendum required by the country's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).
The Equatoria region is faced with several challenges, including insecurity caused by cattle rustling and Uganda's Lord's Resistant Army, child abduction and land grabbing.
"All of us are committed to peace, stability and the development of the new state," said Governor Lojore. "Security is a necessity and therefore we must build a nation that is capable of defending the people and property of the republic of South Sudan."