(Updates with flag raising in first paragraph, Ban in third and Machar in fourth, seventh.)
July 14 (Bloomberg) -- The flag of the Republic of South Sudan, with its yellow star, was raised at United Nations headquarters in New York today after the oil-rich African country became the 193rd member of the world body.
The ceremony followed the General Assembly’s vote by acclamation to admit South Sudan, which proclaimed its independence on July 9. Vice President Riek Machar was escorted to South Sudan’s seat in the General Assembly hall amid applause from diplomats of the other member governments.
“At this moment, in this place, the world gathers to say in one voice, ‘Welcome South Sudan,’” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “The task ahead is great, but so too is the country’s potential, with its abundant natural resources, arable land, the waters of the Nile and, of course, proud and hard working people.”
Machar later said the flag’s star symbolizes the hopes of the world’s newest nation. Its black stripe stands for the word “Sudan,” a derivation of black in Arabic. White, green, blue and red stripes represent, respectively, peace, land, the Nile River and the sacrifice of the South Sudanese people to achieve their independence, he said.
South Sudan’s independence follows a year that has been the most violent in the region since the end of a two-decade civil war in the region in 2005. Rebel attacks and ethnic violence have killed 2,368 civilians, compared with 940 last year, according to the UN. As many as nine militia groups operate mainly along the new state’s border with the north.
The UN has established two peacekeeping missions in the region in the past month, one in the disputed border area of Abyei and the other in South Sudan. The latter will include as many as 7,000 soldiers and 900 civilian police to provide security and aid the new nation’s development.
“Our fundamental hope and desire is to see peaceful coexistence between the two neighboring states of Sudan and South Sudan,” Machar said. “Both states must be viable and stable.”
South Sudan gained control of about 75 percent of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels when it became independent. The crude, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. day, is exported through a pipeline that runs to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Oil earnings accounted for about 98 percent of South Sudan’s 2010 budget.
Sudan is the first new UN member since Montenegro in 2006.
--Editors: Ann Hughey, Steven Komarow
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