Juba: Joyous people poured onto the streets, danced and kissed the earth to mark the oil-rich South Sudan becoming the world's newest country on Saturday, with international leaders, including Vice President Hamid Ansari, witnessing history unfolding in the country's capital here.

Splitting away from Khartoum-ruled north after decades of civil war that claimed nearly two million lives, South Sudan was declared a sovereign nation by its President Salva Kiir Mayardit at a colourful noon hour ceremony attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.

The new nation has become 193rd country to be recognized by the UN and the 54th member state from Africa.

India immediately moved to say that it would appoint an ambassador to the new country after the two sides sign an agreement in that regard, Indian officials said.

"Oyee South Sudan (long live South Sudan)," chanted thousands of people lining on the streets next to the podium where the main function was held, ushering in the youngest nation.

President Mayardit formally assumed the charge of the new government of the South Sudan, which came into existence after a 21-year-old war that preceded the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement between north and south.
"Never again shall South Sudan be oppressed for their political outlook," he said in his message.

Ansari, who arrived here from Kampala to join the celebration as head of the Indian delegation, first laid wreath at the mausoleum of the leader of the freedom struggle John Garang.

India congratulates people of South Sudan

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday greeted the people of South Sudan on their proclamation of independence and extended all possible assistance from India.

In a letter to President General Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, he also applauded the new nation’s commitment to addressing all outstanding issues with North Sudan in an amicable and peaceful manner.

"India stands ready to share its development experience and extend whatever assistance possible to South Sudan. I am confident that our cooperation will grow from strength to strength in the coming days for the mutual benefit of our two peoples," Singh said in his letter.

US vows support for South Sudan

US President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that the United States formally recognised the newly created Republic of South Sudan and vowed to support it in the "hard work" of nation building.

"I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognises the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011," Obama said in a statement.

UK, France welcome new nation of South Sudan

Britain on Saturday recognised South Sudan and appointed an ambassador to Juba after the African country declared its independence.

"Today the Republic of South Sudan becomes independent, and the world's newest country," said Prime Minister David Cameron in a statement.

Besides UK, France also recognised the Republic of South Sudan with President Nicolas Sarkozy calling for establishing diplomatic relations with the newly created nation.

"France recognises and welcomes South Sudan to the community of nations," said a statement from the French presidency, adding that Sarkozy has proposed to South Sudan's President Salva Kir "that the two countries establish diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors."

(Agencies)