July 1, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny on Tuesday accused the local media of quoting officials out of context, urging them to focus on accuracy.
- South Sudan’s presidential spokesperson speaking during a press conference in Khartoum March 2, 2014 (Ebrahim Hamid/AFP)
Addressing reporters in response to reports that government had allegedly restricted public debates on federal system of governance and plotted to kill governors speaking publicly in favor of federalism, Ateny said the media had done very little on accuracy.
“I think our media has the problem of not picking up exactly the real thing and this is a big problem,” he said when asked to clarify reports that President Salva Kiir invited the former secretary general of the ruling party (SPLM), Pagan Amum and other senior members of the party initially detained, but later set free over an alleged coup attempt in the capital, Juba.
Ateny said President Kiir never initiated a meeting with senior SPLM officials, now known as former detainees, in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa last month. The South Sudanese leader, he said, accepted a request by Amum, former justice minister, John Luk, former cabinet affairs minister, Deng Alor and his ex-finance counterpart Kosti Manibe for a meeting.
“And president willingly accepted them to come and talk to them; not president have invited them,” Ateny stressed.
“If it is the English language that you [reporters] speak you better take it correctly. If it is Arabic you speak, you take also correctly,” he added.
Ateny claimed President Kiir then told the former detainees to come to Juba “for the interest of peace.”
60 DAYS ULTIMATUM
Ateny also challenged reporters for government’s commitment to sixty days ultimatum signed by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar on June 10th, which he said was attached to the peace talks.
“As a very informed journalist you should know that 60 days is determined by the results of the negotiations,” said Ateny.
“Sixty days is not running parallel to what is supposed to come out from Addis Ababa between the two parties or three parties or four parties that are negotiating peace agreement,” he added.
“So if the negotiations are suspected indefinitely, so how do you think 60 days can run if they are no parallel?” he added.
None of the reporters who attended Tuesday’s press conference willingly accepted to react to Ateny’s statements.
NO ASSASSINATION PLOT
Meanwhile, the presidential spokesperson claimed the alleged plot to kill governors of the greater Equatoria regions who have publicly supported the federalism system of governance were false.
“The president is not against federalism so that he can have dispute with his friends,” Ateny said in reference to the governors of South Sudan’s Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states.
“They [governors] are in contact with the president all the time. So there is no way the president could conspire or ought to have conspired to eliminate them simply because they are talking of federalism," he added.
Ateny said government was aware of social media sites and accounts creating fear and panic among the public.