December 6, 2013 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - The United States special envoy for the Sudans, Donald Booth, has arrived in Khartoum from Juba amid an apparent unwillingness by officials here to meet with him.
- US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth (Photo State Department)
The pro-government Ashorooq TV reported that the US charge d’affaires Joseph Stafford appealed to the Sudanese government to facilitate his visit which comes "in the framework of peace efforts".
Khartoum has reportedly delayed granting a visa to Booth saying that scheduling issues hampered their ability to arrange meetings for him with Sudanese officials.
However, the Sudanese foreign ministry denied media reports that the government has decided to suspend cooperation with him.
Booth met with the head of the parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, security, and defence, Mohamed Al-Hassan Al-Amin and according to state media discussed political and economic issues.
Al-Amin explained to the US official the nature of the upcoming changes in the executive and legislative branch stressing that it does not imply shortcomings of the government.
The Sudanese lawmaker said that the new government formation will continue furthering the country’s goal. He noted the importance of opposition parties participating in the 2015 elections and drafting the new constitution.
ATTACKS ON PRESS FREEDOM
Meanwhile, Booth said the US government was closely monitoring South Sudan’s media environment following recent threats from authorities.
Donald Booth said the US was against the culture of impunity and that media freedom must be allowed to persist in any country.
His remark follows the recent fall-out between government and the media, as authorities seeks control over the latter.
“We remain watchful of what is happening and support one of the fundamental issue which is [the] freedom of the press”, said Booth, appointed US special envoy in September this year.
A robust free press is one of the things that can help South Sudan to move forward, he added, further stressing that a free press serves many purposes was critical for nation-building.
Recently, there was a directive from South Sudan information ministry, which demanded that all journalists in the country register; something media practitioners have strongly opposed.
This week, however, the country’s lawmaker passed provisions of the draft media bills, a few days after journalists threatened to boycott coverage of all government activities.
The new nation, early this year, ranked 124 out of 148 countries, sliding 12 places from its previous ranking, according to a survey done by Reporters Without Borders.