afrol News, 8 February - Headed by the US and (north) Sudan, there is an international rush to announce that South Sudan will be recognised as an independent state as soon as independence is declared in July.
US President Barack Obama yesterday congratulated the people of South Sudan "for a successful and inspiring referendum" in which over 98 percent of voters chose independence. "I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognise Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011," the US President said in a statement.
The White House statement followed yesterday's immediate positive reaction from Khartoum, the capital of what is becoming North Sudan. There, also Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir congratulated southerners, again promising he would fully respect the outcome of the referendum and that the Khartoum government would recognise the new state of South Sudan immediately after independence.
According to the north-south peace agreement, independence for South Sudan is slated for 18 July this year. Only a possible conflict of the central Sudanese province of Abyei - which has yet to decide whether to join the north or the south - or a conflict over resource and debt partition between north and south could possibly delay South Sudan's declaration of independence.
Northern President al-Bashir, who has been psychologically prepared for secession for a long time, increasingly has grown to trust and respect autonomous South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, who also remains Sudan's Vice-President. Lately, President al-Bashir even has been helpful presenting Mr Kiir to African colleagues, of which many still are sceptical about the establishment of a new state on African soil.
South Sudanese President Kiir indeed joined President al-Bashir to the recent African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, where many African leaders were able to meet their new counterpart for the first time.
While the AU, as a guarantor of the north-south peace, was more or less obliged to recognise South Sudan upon independence in July, many African countries - struggling with possible secessionist movements - had expressed doubts. Mr Kiir's introduction to fellow African leaders was assumed to have eased these reservations on the continent.
Outside Africa, the rush to recognise the new country is unprecedented. Western countries - which more or less openly had supported the "Christian" South against the Muslim North during the long conflict - have been first in line to congratulate the South Sudanese and President Kiir.
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed "the results of the referendum," pledging further support to the north-south peace process. Norway, together with the UK a key nation in this peace process, equally welcomed the referendum, announcing a quick recognition of South Sudan in July and further development aid.
Catherine Ashton, the "Foreign Minister" of the European Union (EU), praised the referendum, promising the EU would develop "a close and long-term partnership with Southern Sudan, which is set to become a new state." The German government announced its support for South Sudan, pledging further aid funds for the new state. French President Nicolas Sarkozy today issued a similar statement.
But not only the South's old Western allies cheered and promised support. Also Asian nations are issuing statements of congratulations to the new nation, which will be rich on natural resources, including oil.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei today said Beijing "respects the results of South Sudan referendum," urging both the north and the south to keep on their good work in implementing the peace deal. China's state oil company, CNPC, will be deeply engaged on both sides of the new border.
Large Asian economies, including India, Malaysia, Japan and Korea eye large business opportunities in South Sudan, a country that is being constructed from almost nothing and where most of its natural resources still have to be mapped.
In Asia, Japan today went farthest in embracing the new state, with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara welcoming the secession. Tokyo would provide continued support, he promised.
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