|The UN is already running two missions in the Sudan, which is set to split into two nations on Saturday [Reuters]
The UN Security Council has voted to establish a new peacekeeping force for South Sudan hours before it becomes Africa's newest independent state.
Friday's vote comes six years after a 2005 peace deal that ended years of war with the north and set the stage for the south to vote in a referendum for secession.
It also comes amid heightened fears of renewed conflict in volatile border regions.
The United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), set up after the 2005 agreement was signed, and the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) remain in force.
The new mission, to be established as of Friday, calls for up to 7,000 UN peacekeepers and an additional 900 civilian police for South Sudan, a poor, conflict-ravaged but oil-producing nation.
Sudan, meanwhile, has officially recognised the independence of the south, which held a referendum in January for secession, a government minister announced on state television.
"The Republic of Sudan declares that it recognises the state of South Sudan from July 9," Bakri Hassan Saleh, Khartoum's minister for presidential affairs, said.
The split was agreed in the the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The north, which is predominantly Arab and is led by Omar al-Bashir, will retain the name Sudan while the south, led by Salva Kiir, will be called the Republic of South Sudan.
On Thursday, the southern branch of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said it would split with the northern party and join the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling party in the south.
Riak Gai, the head of the NCP in Southern Sudan, said that the split would take effect immediately.
The decision will affect not just the southern parliament, but state governments as well, Gai said.
"Because my people have chosen independence from the north, we have also decided to delink from the NCP," he said at a press conference in Juba, the soon-to-be southern republic's capital.
"This is not an individual decision... but a decision taken by the NCP at all different levels."
Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the south's minister of information, said the announcement showed a commitment to open democracy. "The SPLM and the NCP can move past their differences," he said.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies