Canada welcomes independence of South Sudan

11:43, July 10, 2011      

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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Ottawa welcomed the independence of South Sudan from Sudan, which took place Saturday after decades of civil war.

"After decades of conflict and underdevelopment, this historic occasion represents an important opportunity for the people of South Sudan to build a brighter, better future for themselves," he said in a statement.

Baird said he would contact his South Sudanese counterpart, as soon as he or she was named, for the purpose of establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Sudan.

He said Canada hoped Sudan and South Sudan would use dialogue to resolve any outstanding issues between them and work toward becoming two viable states that were at peace internally and with each other.

Baird promised Canada would continue to focus on stability in the Sudans.

Canada has since 2006 contributed more than 885 million Canadian dollars (850 million U.S. dollars) toward humanitarian assistance, development and peace building in the former Sudan.

South Sudan, which is oil-rich but is one of the poorest and least-developed on Earth, is expected to become the 193rd country recognized by the United Nations next week and the 54th U.N. member state in Africa.

The young government faces the huge challenge of reforming its oil-based economy and delivering basic needs such as education, health services, water and electricity to its more than 8 million citizens.

At a colorful ceremony held at the Mausoleum of John Garang, the late leader of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement, in the new country's capital of Juba, Salva Kiir Mayardit took the oath of office as President of the new republic after signing the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir stood beside Kiir to watch the military parade led by the Sudan People's Liberation Army. The event was also attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and representatives from the Arab League, African Union and European Union as well as Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister.

A referendum on independence for the southern part of Africa's largest country was held in January, and nearly 99 percent of the voters chose secession, paving the way for the south's independence on July 9.

South Sudan shares a 2,100-kilometer border with northern Sudan and also bordersr Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Congo.

Source: Xinhua
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