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S. Sudan security confiscates copies of newspaper over federalism debate

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July 2, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese security forces have confiscated copies of the Juba Monitor newspaper and threatened to arrest senior management and shut it down indefinitely should it continue to defy the government’s directives to stop covering the ongoing debate over federalism, its editor-in-chief Alfred Taban told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday

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South Sudanese security agents seized 15,000 copies of Enlish-language daily Juba Monitor in the capital on 3 July 2014 (Photo: Mugume Davis/VOA)

He said security forces seized 15,000 copies of the English-language daily, resulting in lost revenues.

The veteran journalist described the actions of the government agents as “unconstitutional”, saying he feared it was the continuation of a crackdown on civil groups critical of the performance of the government.

He said the incident was an ominous sign for freedom of expression in the country.

“The security forces today (Wednesday) confiscated 15,000 copies of our paper because I have attacked them on the censuring of the public debates about federalism. Such [an] act indeed interferes with the freedom of expression,” Taban said in an exclusive interview.

Security officials were not immediately available for comment.

Nhial Bol Akeen, editor-in-chief of The Citizen newspaper, also confirmed that copies of the Juba Monitor had been confiscated, describing it as clear violation of the transitional constitution.

“What they have done is unconstitutional. There is no provision in the constitution that states that censorship or confiscation of publications is allowed,” he said, urging the government to allow the country’s media industry to operate freely without fear of intimidation and threats.

REMINISCENT OF THE PAST

Meanwhile, government critics said such actions were “reminiscent of the behaviours for which the citizens of the new nation fought against successive Khartoum-based governments” in the north from which South Sudan seceded in 2011 following a referendum on self determination as part of a 2005 peace agreement which ended more than two decades of civil war.

“It will surely suppress media freedom and freedom of expression. It will also increase dissidence and emboldened calls for federalism behind the doors,” a senior member of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) told Sudan Tribune when asked to comment on the matter on Wednesday, adding that such incidents would also undermine alternative systems of governance which may have merit.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said actions of the government agents go against the principles for which his party advocates, accusing them of working against the ruling party.

“You know, in this government there are individual officials working against the principles of the SPLM … because they want to achieve their own ambitions and interests,” he said.

“I think they are working for the downfall of the party, which we will not accept,” he added.

On Tuesday, South Sudan’s presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, accused the local media of inaccurate reporting and quoting officials out of context.

His comments came after the government allegedly restricted public debates on the merits of a federal system of governance.

South Sudan’s rebel faction under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar is strongly advocating in favour of federalism.

The government has rejected the calls, saying restoring peace and stability should be the first priority.

(ST)

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  • 3 July 2014 13:16, by DDooggaa

    Dinka security, you guys are wasting time. This federalism must me imposed. 80% of the South Sudanese population supports federalism. Kiir and her husband Wani Igga are just wasting time. They both must step down

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    • 3 July 2014 13:35, by Akook

      These are clear signs of a desperate government whose days are numbered. Dictatorship has no place in South Sudan, this is not Khartoum Mr Salva and Makuei Lueth. Pagan Amum said clearly in his DEC 6, conference that S Sudan must be democratic. No one has a right to think we should be other way round but must a democratic state.

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    • 3 July 2014 14:23, by Martin

      Dog and the likes, saying and singing the song of federalism will not change the people. In addition, federalism can not and will not change our mindset of being hostile. Who is the problem the system or people?? It can be voted by peaceful people and put into the constitution peacefully.It is not done through presidential degree.

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      • 3 July 2014 14:32, by Martin

        All media outlet are also missing the point of federalism. The Federal system of government should not be debated on newspapers, the MPs are the right people to debate it in the parliament.

        repondre message

        • 3 July 2014 14:45, by Ito

          Democracy will never come to south sudan if Dinka are in the head. Dinka think like white racist who think anyone with dark skin is inferior to those with lighter skin. The only difference is they are darker skin in south sudan but skin is not being used but rather an ego. Like one student told me that any association form must be headed by Dinka otherwise the government will not fund it.

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          • 3 July 2014 14:48, by Ito

            Even top officials from other tribes since from Garang time were not respected by a private soldier from Dinka upto now in this government. Generals like James Hoth are just being put like a toy but a private soldier will not even take his complaint to hoth but direct to salva or Dinka bypassing Hoth. Is this good ya Jamaa?

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            • 3 July 2014 15:06, by Martin

              Ito,
              You must to understand that your comments are fueling the hatred among South Sudanese. Dinka tribe is like any other tribes in South Sudan and you keep teaching hatred against them. There are good and bad elements in every tribe, and if you labelled or generalized them as bad, you become a losser.James Hoth and other fellows are good elements of the Nuers tribe who can lead us all.War is bad

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