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South Africa’s Zuma applauds S.Sudan independence

South Africa’s President Zuma Saturday said Africans from Cape to Cairo were proud of South Sudan’s independence, as the country became the world’s newest sovereign state after decades of war.

“Sudan (both north and south) needs to serve as an example and a beacon of hope not only to the African continent but to the world at large,” Zuma said in a statement.

“We know that many are uneasy about the independence of the South,” he added.

South Sudan’s independence comes six months after a referendum that saw southerners vote almost unanimously to split with their former civil war enemies in the north.

“Change always brings uncertainty and discomfort. However, we are pleased at the general acceptance of the reality of the independence of the South, and that this historic development is an expression of the will of the people,” said Zuma, who was in South Sudan for the independence declaration.

Zuma’s predecessor Thabo Mbeki was one of the leading African Union peace negotiators in the Sudan conflict and South Africa had deployed troops to the east African country.

For decades, until a peace agreement was signed in 2005, southern rebels fought two wars with successive Khartoum governments for greater autonomy and recognition.

“As South Africa we are truly humbled to have contributed to ensuring a sustainable peace in the Sudan,” said Zuma.

South Africa also chaired the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Committee on the Sudan.

“We have always aspired to witness the dawn of peace, security and stability prevailing in the whole of the Sudan. That dream is coming to fruition,” said Zuma.