JUBA, July 9, 2011—The world extended a warm welcome to the newly independent state of South Sudan Saturday, at a ceremony here attended by hundreds of thousands of overjoyed Southern Sudanese and dignitaries from across the globe.
South Sudanese attending the event exploded in joy as the speaker of the country’s parliament, Hon. James Wani Igga, formally declared: “We, the democratically elected representatives of the people, based on the will of the people of South Sudan, and as confirmed by the outcome of the referendum of self-determination, hereby declare South Sudan to be an independent and sovereign nation”.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who opened the long line of speeches at the official ceremony, praised the courage of the two Sudanese leaders – Omar El Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit – extended Kenya’s recognition of the new country and called on the international community to help it resolve outstanding border issues with its northern neighbor.
“This is a beautiful day for Africa,” the President of the United Nations General Assembly Joseph Deiss said in his remarks, promising that the U.N. would proceed “swiftly within a few days” with admission for its 193rd member – South Sudan – which he described as “this land of great abundance”.
“Independence is not a gift you have been given, it is a prize you have earned,” said Ambassador Susan E. Rice, the representative of U.S. President Barack Obama. Describing the people of the United States as a “lasting friend and partner”, she called on President Mayardit to “bind up the wounds of war”, build institutions devoted to serving the public interest, free of corruption and fraud, and to build a country worthy of the sacrifice of its fallen heroes.
To do that, Ms. Rice said, Juba must draw from the “same self-reliance that won your freedom” and that can bring you “from self-determination to a democracy” in which you “guarantee rights, shelter the vulnerable and bring prosperity to all corners of your country”.
“A viable South Sudan will need a viable North,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the man whom Southern Sudanese nicknamed “Awarbei” (meaning the “white bull”) during his first trip, who urged each side of the now divided country to see each other as “partners not rivals” and encouraged South Sudan to embrace sovereignty not only “as a right, but a great responsibility”.
The representative of Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke of the need for the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan to remain “good neighbors, good partners and brothers forever”.
“We are now two separate and sovereign countries, but we are all still Sudanese,” President Bashir told the crowd, pledging that Khartoum would work with Juba to resolve outstanding issues.
On behalf of the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD), Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi extended a warm welcome to South Sudan as a full-fledged member, and to thunderous applause, advised that Ethiopia had already recognized the new nation.
Announcing a symbolic gift – funding to build South Sudan’s National Archives - the Crown Prince of Norway Haakon Magnus pledged continued Norwegian support to help build “a stable, democratic, peaceful and prosperous South Sudan”.
Among the very first to open a new embassy – a day before – and to appoint an ambassador to South Sudan, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague promised London’s support as South Sudan “seeks a future of peace and prosperity, and full integration in the region”.
Recognition for the newly-born nation of South Sudan started coming in the night before. Khartoum recognized the new state shortly after 3 p.m. on July 8 followed shortly thereafter by Egypt.
News of the two earliest recognitions of the new nation broke at a banquet which President Mayardit hosted at state house the night before, attended, among others, by the presidents of Zimbabwe, Eritrea, the Saharaoui Arab Democratic Republic, Somaliland and the Secretary General of the United Nations.
At the end of the banquet, President Mayardit dropped over to the table where the World Bank delegation was seated to convey special thanks to the World Bank via its South Sudan Country Manager Laura Kullenberg, but also to thank Laurence Clarke, the former country manager now the country director for Mozambique, Angola and Sao Tome & Principe, for traveling from Maputo to attend Independence Day festivities in Juba.