Tutu congratulates south Sudan on independence
A group of international statesmen headed by South Africa's Desmond Tutu on Thursday congratulated south Sudan on its imminent independence, but voiced concern over violence along the new border.
The Elders group sent a letter to south Sudan president Salva Kiir ahead of the split from Sudan on Saturday, urging him to foster good relations with Khartoum.
"The Elders share in your joy and will celebrate this historic moment with you all," Tutu said in a statement.
"The Elders also urged the government of the new Republic of South Sudan to foster harmonious relations between Juba and Khartoum," the statement said.
"The Elders are deeply troubled by the ongoing conflict, internal displacement and killing of civilians in Abyei and Southern Kordofan," it added.
"They have urged the authorities in North and South Sudan, as well as regional states, to avoid actions that could provoke further violence and increase the risk of large-scale conflict."
"We encourage you to ensure that opposition parties, civil society representatives and all regions of the (Republic of South Sudan) can play a meaningful role in the South's transition," they said in the letter.
"Marginalisation of these groups would harm the prospects for democracy and lasting peace and stability."
The first mission by The Elders was to Sudan in 2007, after Nelson Mandela announced the group's formation. Among the statesmen in the group are former US president Jimmy Carter and ex-UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
© 2011 AFP