By Philip Johnston
Juba — July 11, 2013 … One of the main accomplishments of the two years of South Sudan’s independence is broadening regional cooperation in East Africa and unwavering support neighboring countries give to this youngest independent democracy.
That support was highlighted during the second independence anniversary celebrated in Juba, South Sudan on July 9th.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has received pledges of cooperation and committment from Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Botswana, South Africa, UN, EU, USA and the African Union.
Despite the effects of the oil shutdown, used by the Jihadist regime of Khartoum to strangle South Sudan, the regional East African leaders underscored the tremendous progress South Sudan has made in its bid to develop the country devastated by the two decades long civil war.
“When I was coming, flying over Juba, I looked down through the window of the plane, seeing the expansion of the city, I thought we were lost. Juba has grown in such a very short time”, said President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda. He wondered how much more would have been achieved had precious time not been lost in the many years of civil war.
“We must learn from each other and share experiences of each our recent past and work together to form a future that will be beneficial to all of us,” said said Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Calling for regional integration, President Kagame said South Sudan is bound to contribute to peace, security and development in the region and Africa as a whole. He said there is need to strengthen intra-African infrastructure and create economic growth in the region.
Reaffirming the commitment of his government to work with South Sudan and the region, the Rwandan President called for unity in the region to avoid what he said is “divide in action”.
Botswana’s President Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, former South African President Thabo Mbek and UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Hilde Johnson, were many among regional and international dignitaries that graced the second independence anniversary attended by hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba.
Kerry added: “The vision that South Sudan laid out for itself two years ago requires a sustained commitment to democracy and good governance, justice and accountability, and respect for the rule of law and the human rights of all of South Sudan’s people. We support South Sudan’s efforts to institute governmental reform at all levels, resolve outstanding conflicts, promote economic growth, and ensure peace and stability. The United States remains committed to helping South Sudan build a more prosperous, inclusive, and democratic society – one that is at peace internally and with its neighbors. On the second anniversary of your nation’s independence, the journey continues and we stand ready to help support economic prosperity, democratic governance, and respect for human rights in South Sudan for years to come.”