It is an immense honour to represent the United Kingdom of Great Britain on this momentous occasion, and to show our wholehearted support for The Republic of South Sudan as it joins the community of nations as an independent, sovereign nation and celebrates its first Day of Independence.
We congratulate the people of South Sudan on this historic achievement. It represents the triumph of peaceful negotiation over conflict and adversity, and is a moment of hope and optimism for the future.
In Britain we are proud to be among the first nations in the world to recognise the new Republic of South Sudan, and I thank His Excellency Salva Kiir Miyardit for his invitation to attend today. I offer you my heartfelt congratulations, Mr President, on behalf of my Prime Minister David Cameron and the whole of the British Government, as you become the first President of the Republic of South Sudan.
The Government of the United Kingdom stands with the people of South Sudan as they seek a future of stability and prosperity; one we hope of lasting peace with their neighbours, full integration into the region, and strong cooperation with Britain and other nations represented here today. We look forward to South Sudan taking its place as a full member of the United Nations.
We pay tribute to the enormous progress South Sudan has made since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement six and a half years ago. The 98% vote for secession in January’s referendum showed the unity of the people of South Sudan in their desire for self-government: today, that dream has become a reality. And we remember all those who died or were bereaved during the conflict. Their sacrifices should redouble the determination of all of us to support a peaceful future for South Sudan.
I commend all those in North and South who have been part of the painstaking negotiations that brought us to this point; and President Thabo Mbeki, the AU High Level Panel, the African Union and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development for their irreplaceable role in these efforts.
The people of the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan now have a chance to coexist peacefully as neighbours and to settle their remaining differences.
We urge the leaders of both countries to maintain their commitment to the continuing negotiations, which are essential to building a lasting peace for all the peoples of both Sudans, and to lose no time in addressing the considerable challenges which still remain. They will have the support of the Britain and the international community as they do this.
To the people of the South Sudan, I say that the United Kingdom understands the challenges your new country will face. We will work with you as you face those challenges. As a demonstration of that support and our confidence in your future, we have today opened a new British Embassy in Juba and appointed the first British Ambassador to South Sudan, Dr Alastair McPhail. We will use this enhanced diplomatic presence to work alongside you as you build your nation and seek to meet the aspirations of your people.
And I also say to their neighbours in the north, the people of Sudan, that the United Kingdom wants to develop our relations with you and to help you too to build a better future.
Thank you very much, and happy Independence Day.