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Juba clarifies public media blackout on Abyei referendum campaigns


October 17, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government on Thursday justified its decision to ban public media from covering and publishing all announcements and mobilisation campaigns in support of a proposed referendum on Abyei.

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Demonstrators chant outside of the UN headquarters in New York as they ask for a referendum to determine the future of Abyei region on September 23, 2013. (Photo Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

The decision, announced late on Wednesday 15 evening, will affect only state-owned media, such as South Sudan Television (SSTV) and its affiliate radio station.

Senior officials, including information minister Michael Makuei Lueth, have also asked editors and senior reporters from both public and independent media houses, as well as opinion writers to “observe ethics and objective” reporting.

He further stressed that all media coverage should reflect public interest on issues relating to the conduct of a planned referendum to determine the fate the contested region of Abyei.

“The suspension was done to allow the government [to] put in place processes for [the] Abyei referendum in an organised and responsible manner”, he said.

“I have seen that the process is being abused. There are some people who just show up at the station to talk unnecessarily”, he added.

Lueth said the measures are being put in place to prevent media representatives making irresponsible or incorrect statements on the issue.

They (media organisations) need to be guided by allowing them to comment on the issues they think they have clear knowledge about, instead of making it an open talk show”, he said

South Sudanese officials complained from the abrupt shift in the nature of the campaign for Abyei referendum saying some guests in radio and TV shows made irresponsible statements against the government, African Union and Sudanese government.

Lueth, who was speaking on behalf of the government, made the remarks at a press briefing on Thursday, during which he explained that public media should not be used responsibly in order to avoid misinterpretations.

“We know that there is a campaign for the people of Abyei to be mobilised to return to their homes so that they take part in the all the processes of the referendum when necessary arrangements have been [put] in place, but this mobilisation must be carried out in a responsible manner so that it avoids misinterpretations, especially when these activities are broadcast by the government media”, he said.

Lueth said he had taken the decision to suspend state-owned television and radio broadcasts until proper processes are put in place, adding that the ban only referred to programs and segments that may lead to confusion about the referendum.

“I have said already that programs related to the conduct of [the] Abyei referendum will be run when the necessary preparations are in place. We are doing this to avoid generating confusion and misunderstanding”, he said.

The minister confirmed observations that his government does not want to be implicated in the conduct of a unilateral referendum which has not been agreed upon by the two countries.

A vote on Abyei was due to be conducted simultaneously with the 2011 referendum on the secession of the South, but failed to take place because the two parties could not agree on who was eligible to vote.

The African Union (AU) had proposed holding a referendum on the future of the oil-producing region this month, but Sudan has rejected the plan, saying a joint administration and public institutions should be set up before any vote on the issue.

“So it is this failure to agree on the referendum laws and set up a joint administration which was proposed by the African Union for Abyei that will probably delay the vote, but we are ready on our side. What we do not want as a government is the involvement in activities which may cause confusion and some misunderstandings”, Lueth said.

The proposal to hold a referendum on Abyei fate in October 2013 had been made by Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union panel on Sudan and South Sudan. But Khartoum rejected it from the very beginning and the African Union did not support it.

However following the recent rapprochement between the Sudanese and South Sudanese governments and their agreement to normalise bilateral relations, Abyei civil society groups put pressure on Juba to reach a deal over the disputed region.

The referendum campaign, under the current power struggle in Juba, turned out to be used against Salva Kiir and his government, observers say.


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  • 18 October 2013 05:52, by william

    It is really very paradoxically by our government to say it needs to proper arrangement which is not timeous since then. To me it seem like our government is following NCP will as well as AU and international communities! Whenever they (NCP)said this and that it is always yes to AU and why? we can not say yes again to KHT on this.
    favouring one side over other had observed here!

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    • 18 October 2013 07:58, by Bilpam Land & Itang are Roots of South Sudan.

      sorry South Sudanese am not happy about Abyei if Abyei will Remaining to the North, while people of Abyei was Struggled with us together During the war and they have a Percent here in South Sudan & our Primitive President forgetting that Abyei is Belong to South b/cs of his Bad Leader what I believing is Let us Pray b/cs if our People of Abyei will remaining to the North Kiir Will die very soon.

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      • 18 October 2013 08:42, by Mi diit

        Kiir is in bed with Bashir on Abyei.

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    • 18 October 2013 10:44, by Bungachier 50

      This man called the Minister of Information has not talked any thing. He is just meandering around. The real point of the campaign’s ban remains untold. Abyei might have been given to the North by our Leaders.

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    • 18 October 2013 13:25, by Abyei Propaganda


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    • 18 October 2013 15:36, by Rommel

      Abyei will not be returned under Salva Kiir’s painfully incapable pseudo ’leadership’. For the sake of victory, we need a cogent new political philosophy; our political environment and its structures must be radically reconfigured into something more efficient and our economic ’policies’ must deliver the promised economic independence that Salva Kiir’s incompetence has so denied us.

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      • 18 October 2013 15:51, by Rommel

        Salva Kiir is not fit to be a leader; the man is not fit to even run a small soup kitchen. Instead of taking his oath to defend our territorial integrity seriously, he whines about the AU’s ineffectiveness like an ire infant; and instead of developing an intelligent, holistic and multifaceted strategy for reclaiming Abyei and other occupied territories...

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        • 18 October 2013 15:54, by Rommel

          ..he quite hopelessly puts all his eggs into one basket — the basket of the non-existent ’international community’. The return of the Kafia Kingi enclave, Kaka, Chali, Gulli, Jebelayn, Abyei, Hofrat en Nahas, Toor Aliiny and a plethora of others is not contingent on negotiating with the occupier...it is, however, contingent on years of detailed and painstaking preparation.

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          • 18 October 2013 16:02, by Rommel

            Victory will forever be an evanescent dream unless we commit to the complete overhaul of our armed forces in terms of doctrine, structure, training, discipline, military platforms and systems. There will be no Referendum and there is no "international community" — we are alone... and that’s precisely just how it’s supposed to be...

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            • 18 October 2013 16:05, by Rommel

              ..Because you have to justify your existance — your right to breathe through struggle. Abyei will not be returned *until* we rid ourselves of the unbelievably corrupt idiots in Juba. Abyei is an extension of our body; and nobody negotiates for the return of his arm or leg or any other constituent part of his body!

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              • 18 October 2013 16:12, by Rommel

                Khartoum will make no concessions until they are given reason (s) to respect you — *fear*. If you wish for others to value your life you must first regard it as holy and proclaim through actions [not words] that if attacked you will immediately respond like a confronted cobra; and that pain, iron, blood and death inescapably awaits your adversaries like the burn of the searing summer sun!

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                • 18 October 2013 16:36, by Rommel

                  War requires a great deal of preparation, planning, refined oil, resources and the ability to produce small arms and all the necessary ammunition. We have to yet to establish means of production that would afford us self-sufficiency in even small arms. A great deal of intelligence, political capital and resources will need to be both invested and expended for the sake of victory...

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                  • 18 October 2013 16:51, by Rommel

                    .... But this will take time — years of planning. "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." If we actually had a government, instead of a band of rapacious, dim-witted, incompetent, thieving Neanderthals... Khartoum’s entire air force could have been rendered inoperable, useless and obsolete by now.

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                    • 18 October 2013 17:04, by Rommel

                      The people of South Sudan are very strong, formidable, resilient people, but principled, intelligent, wise and calculating leadership is crucial, because as said by Chabrias of Axione so very long ago: "An army of sheep led by a lion are more to be feared than an army of lions led by a sheep."

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                • 18 October 2013 16:45, by Bentiu son

                  Rommel!!! look buddy your flip flop stance, sometimes you pretending as die-heart supporter of dictator Salva Kiir and sometimes you act as critic.Which is which? Wow! boy tribal siding won’t help us out from painful leadership of Salva Kiir n his teammates which composes of a bunch of the opportunists, submissivers,comedians,betrayers or crooks whose asses were stamped by Arabs in Khartoum.

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                  • 18 October 2013 16:58, by Bentiu son

                    Dear fellows country men,women,boys n girls, Abyei people have been sold lives by Dictator Salva Kiir n their political rights had been denied due flow of oil pipelines through useless Port Sudan instead of Djibouti or via Lamu Port of Kenya.Kiir sold Abyei to Beshir as to let OIL FLOW TOWARDS SUDAN,What a shame? Makuei Lueth stop lying to public, whom do you thinks,can believe your cheap gainsay?

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                  • 18 October 2013 17:00, by Rommel

                    Bentiu son:
                    I do not flip-flop. I do not run hot and cold. I defend and try to speak the *truth*. And when a lie is made against anyone [including Salva Kiir] I refute it. But that doesn’t mean that I support him. I want him out of government. Let me ask you a question: If you happen to disagree with someone, does that mean that you should turn a blind eye to lies made against him?

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                    • 19 October 2013 06:39, by Mi diit

                      Your problem is that you tend to emotionally defend Kiir and refute what is being said about him even before you confirm it otherwise. For example, incompetent kiir impregnated a young Equatorian girl from catholic church at Kator and I have now confirmed it with three senior members of that church. But yesterday you called it a lie, bla, bla, bla....Do your homework!

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                      • 19 October 2013 06:44, by Mi diit

                        May be you have just realized that Kiir is incompetent. Do you know why I always call him "incompetent Kiir?" It is because I have critically analyzed the man’s activities and have come to conclude that he is an INCOMPETENT accidental president; a curse, of course, to the development, security and good governance there in South Sudan.

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                        • 19 October 2013 10:42, by Rommel

                          Mi diit:
                          Ah, so I’m far too emotional in my refutations, am I? This is hypocrisy in its most pristine and self-degrading form. You been undoubtedly the most ideologically driven, the most fanatical, the most emotionally invested and the most emotionally strained individual on this website. Your accusation is just precious, considering that you support Riek in your belief that he was prophesied

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                          • 19 October 2013 11:01, by Rommel

                            I’ve caught you lying innumerable times. You [not I] have had the *tendency* to make overwrought claims and when called on them, you back peddle into jive-talk mode, where you just make stuff up. Am I suppose to just take you at your word that Salva has indeed impregnated a teenage girl? How do you suppose I should go about this in my attempts to find out whether or not this actually happened?

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                            • 19 October 2013 11:20, by Rommel

                              Does the church have a website? How do I [independent of you] contact them? You have not yet substantiated anything, so don’t pretend that you have. I want objective evidence. Direct me to a credible source, with actual evidence and I will gladly accept that you were right. Failure to provide the requested evidence will just strengthen my already low opinions of you.

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                              • 19 October 2013 11:26, by Rommel

                                I did not just recently wake up to the fact that Salva Kiir is veritably incompetent... I’ve known this since he became President. You are not in the slightest bit objective; the only reason you even criticize Salva Kiir is because you see him as needlessly standing in the way of Riek’s prophesied ascension...

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                                • 19 October 2013 11:29, by Rommel

                                  ..Your blundering response is the result of pure vanity, prejudice and ignorance, which so thoroughly fails to alter, obscure or hide this reality. You are not driven by a desire for truth, but rather by ethnocentric paranoia, which forbids you from admitting what you know to be true whilst espousing falsehoods, which you very well know to be not true...

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                                  • 19 October 2013 11:32, by Rommel

                                    .. But you keep the stuff at such a looney level, that no one takes it seriously, so I don’t think it can work, even on a petty-revenge level. Your emotional, simplistic and embittered mumbo jumbo "analysis" of the situation only demonstrates why you incessantly feel the need to project and why you will forever remain permanently arrested in a quagmire of self-destructive hatred.

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      • 18 October 2013 15:52, by Mayom County Boy

        @ROMEL what mene you on that my dear friend ?
        please you keep quite no need for you on the topic of Abyie

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  • 18 October 2013 06:01, by william

    The international communities, AU and messriya had to abide by court ruling of 2009 which stipulated clearly that Abyei is belong to Nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms period. beause it was law and nobody above laws. If the AU is fearing the terrorist in NCP then, it should be very rather than sitting on ruled right of Dinka Ngok on favourism of NCP.

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  • 18 October 2013 06:13, by william

    MY questions to AU,UNSC and whoever need proper arrangement:-
    1- Who recognised the annexation of Abyei to North in 1905?
    2- What was the meaning of sending Abyei case to Hague in 2009?
    3- Why AU and International communities sitting on known right?
    4- Why did messeriya destroyed whole area of Abyei if they are owners?. Juba had not understood that AU and KHT alliance are trading on abyei people!

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    • 18 October 2013 08:11, by Malakal county Simon

      William/Kiir slave:
      Kiir should be the one to be blame for not giving a shit about Abyie issue. All he cares is leadership, and he will do whatever it takes for him to remains in power, for as long as he want it. So I think those questions you mentions should be directly for kiir, to answers them clearly.

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  • 18 October 2013 06:20, by william

    Failure to answer those questions, it is worthwhile to let AU move out of Abyei and we call war zone between north and south Sudan. Instead of staying there doing the endless business as President Kiir said it will reach 100 years without reaching solution with NCP on Abyei. Nothing without solution.

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    • 18 October 2013 07:41, by Stephen kuach

      President Kiir is too secretive about this particular Abyei issue,he has allowed President of Sudan to play his mind and made him follow his demand,Kiir reveal his weakness by his own without any difficult job to do,Dr.garang completed everything but after his death,it’s a big win for the Ncp regime to twist everything because nobody to fear them after all.

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  • 18 October 2013 06:35, by tootke’bai-ngo

    Nonsense!!!! What the hell Makieu Lueth is talking about, We are in October, Aren’t we???????????, Why is untill now that the Government of S.Sudan is trying to put in place the necessary arrangement when this proposal was issued since last year?
    This leadership completely failed. Selfish Kiir writting that fake letter early this week was to fool Abei & S.Sudan people in general, nice try Mr. Mic

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    • 18 October 2013 06:52, by Paul Chadrack

      it is now very clear mr naive minister that you and your boss don’t want khartoum to misunderstood you and stop the oil flow,bartering abyei with oil flow is not acceptable, south sudan masses will face you and bring down your corrupt government which you have made yourselves as our small gods.

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  • 18 October 2013 06:46, by tootke’bai-ngo

    nice try Mr. Micheal Lueth but no thanks, we deserve better explaination than that, If so what heck is Sudanese Army still doinh in Abei? Why Abei people not recieving a share of their own oil revenue? why are we falling on jointed adminstration/institution now when 40 percent of Abei area already been given to Massiriya after 2009 ruling? does this mean even 60% left to be divid

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  • 18 October 2013 06:50, by Chol A.

    I do realise that AU and other international communities were playing games over Abyei since no set date rather than mentioning October as the Month for referendum. Media must be suspended because SS as whole were supporting referendum but they were not all voting, only Abyei community were legable for it and if Media compaign was not alike to G’vt policy then they shuould stop campaigning

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    • 18 October 2013 09:38, by Naath

      Different statement in the government with different leaders in different position,what a poor communication from hopeless kiir and his teammate,vic president in UN assembly,kiir in Juba,michael makuey lueth everyone have his owns idea for how to get good direction,kiir said global approach,Igga said referendum still on track,makuey said his government still organiz.for this is completely neglecte

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    • 18 October 2013 10:03, by Naath

      Chol A
      Dinka dominate
      Isme the slave from Israel
      Marco stupid Bul
      Now become clear,from hopeless kiir and looters michael lueth that Abyie referendum is not existing any more and for you guys supporting the primitive president who doesn’t know which direction is heading,I think you feel shame

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  • 18 October 2013 07:12, by omoni jr.

    The Abyei is already gone with exchanged of oil pipeline.

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    • 18 October 2013 08:31, by Frak Cho

      To all those who put comments,
      we need to understand that UN and international communities are doing the same thing. Remember the issue of "Pan-thou", when SPLA took it unilaterally, the world big bodies condemned the act of the SPLA saying "Pan-Thou" belonged to the North, SPLA should withdraw. When Khartoum bump the South, from time to time, UN and World bodies keep quiet, what do you think?

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  • 18 October 2013 08:15, by Marco Bul

    Let Abyei remain in the North.They will drag us to war in which they will not participate.They are black Arabs.Their bravery is sipping hot tea only.

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    • 18 October 2013 10:39, by Nibs

      @ Marko,
      Why don’t you just shut your mouth when you have nothing to say? " They will drag us to war....., their bravery is sipping hot tea only"! WHERE IS YOUR BRAVERY?

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    • 18 October 2013 10:45, by pabaak

      Few months ago I said here that Abyei referendum will be delayed for God’s Know day; because two countries will not agree for conduct of referendum, will we allow meseryia to vote? absolutely No, and they also want meseryia to be allowed to vote, which is contrary to what they signed in court of arbitrary which defined who have right to vote. I have also acknowledge the problem of our government

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      • 18 October 2013 10:51, by pabaak

        of having no alternative to oil, which Jalaba will capitalized for their favor to refused unilateral referendum on South Sudan side, and recent statement from AU and US envoy to S, Sudan, and Sudan stood as the evidence that International will not allowed unilateral referendum, because they know that will anger Khartoum and hence will led to shut down of pipeline, the only lifeline of South Sudan

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        • 18 October 2013 11:02, by pabaak

          So, I think our government need to choose one from two things; either to listen to AU, and US envoy and possibly UN for unknown date in order for oil to flows, or choose the oil stopped and use our alternative mean VS unilateral vote. I don’t think is illegal to conduct Abyei referendum anyway because S, Sudan didn’t violate any rules, but international community who have violating their rules

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  • 18 October 2013 12:15, by Ambago

    What are you trying to clarify here my friend? It is already obvious that the SPLM leadership of Kiir has failed on Abyei. You began with too much rhetoric and now and only now that you have realized that a country with a weak leader and a weak foreign policy has no place in the world diplomacy.

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  • 18 October 2013 15:19, by The Republic of South Sudan


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  • 18 October 2013 17:36, by Anti Terrer

    ..Makuei Lueth again! shame on....u spoiled mayardit administration, ua present in g.vt is like one... living in the room with bedbuck i hated u the first day u said 14 mile is international border..shame shame shame on u...abyei issue neva and will not b a secret to one to take about....as u r now the head of media thing will not b well other

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    • 18 October 2013 18:00, by moto


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  • 18 October 2013 19:20, by Positive Thinker

    Fellow country men. The issue of Abyei is huge and contentious. I do agree South Sudan has chickened out and for a good reason. Politic is a game of calculation, so if the gains are less than loss, then the best option is to back peddle. For unilateral referendum for Abyei non of the world powers aren’t with us

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    • 19 October 2013 09:24, by pabaak

      You got it right, mostly, South Sudanese are pay prices for wrongs done since 2005 onward, and I urge the government, since there’s no agreement on Abyei referendum, which already delayed for good two years, then why delayed again for another two years, so you will strengthen the economy by diversify it using oil revenues, and then can claim it without demanding agreement from no body.

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