The world’s newest country and United Nations Member State, South Sudan, will need international assistance for a long time just to develop basic infrastructure and tap into its natural resources, President Salva Kiir said today.
“South Sudan stands in dire need of all the help it can get,” he told the General Assembly’s annual general debate – the first time a representative of the State has addressed the debate.
“In most post-conflict situations, nations would normally expect to rebuild. This is not the case for us. Even before the ravages of war could set in, our country never had anything worth rebuilding. Hence we characterize our post-conflict mission as one of construction rather than reconstruction.”
Mr. Kiir said he hoped that the overwhelming support that greeted South Sudan’s independence in July will now “translate into tangible development assistance” for the country.
“Our march out of the abyss of poverty and deprivation into the realm of progress and prosperity is going to be a long one.”
He noted that while the country has abundant oil, minerals and other natural resources, so far “we hardly produce anything for ourselves.”
South Sudan must diversify its economy so that it is not overly dependent on oil, he added.
“The ambition of the people of South Sudan is to be able to transform their country into a regional agro-industrial powerhouse… the attainment of this goal will indeed remain a tall order. Much as we need external assistance, it is our passionate wish that it will be offered on terms that will also respect our political and economic choices.”
Security remains a key factor in ensuring South Sudan can develop, Mr. Kiir said, emphasizing that his country was committed to peace both within its borders and with its neighbours.
He called for a speedy resolution of the outstanding border demarcation issues with Sudan, and for serious negotiations between the two countries over economic issues, particularly arrangements over oil.