Addis Ababa: South Sudan has officially joined the African Union after two-thirds of member
countries accepted Juba`s request for membership.
Africa`s newest state has been welcomed to the continental club following an elaborate ceremony held on Tuesday at the bloc`s Addis Ababa headquarters.
South Sudan now becomes the 54th member of the regional grouping established in 2002 as a successor to the defunct Organisation of African Unity.
The South Sudanese flag was hoisted at the AU compound by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and bloc chief Jean Ping, followed by a joyful national anthem performed by a brass band that had travelled from Juba.
The ceremony was well attended by representatives from all African countries in addition to other invited guests.
South Sudan will now formally take over its permanent seat at AU meetings, next to that of the Sudanese government.
"We were around the outside of this building for many years but we were never allowed to enter but today we are here sitting with you," Mr Kiir told those in attendance.
Mr Ping urged member countries that had not responded to the AU Commission`s communication on Juba`s membership to do so, while calling on both the North and South to resolve pending issues under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the two opposing sides in 2005.
President Kiir promised his government would work hard to sustain peace and fulfil the expectations of South Sudanese and Africans by ensuring social-economic progress.