December 8, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudanese security personnel confiscated copies of a number of newspapers after they published details of a press conference by senior leaders of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which was critical of president Salva Kiir.
- Newspapers vendor in Juba streets (Photo Cafod)
On Friday, several members of the highest executive organ of the SPLM, the Political Bureau (PB), held a press conference accusing Kiir of having “dictatorial tendencies” and mismanaging the party and the government.
The press conference, which was held at the SPLM leadership house in Juba, was led by the first deputy chairman, Riek Machar, and included members of the National Liberation Council (NLC).
The event was covered by dozens of various media houses, both local and international.
Security personnel warned media representatives immediately after the event not to broadcast or publish details of the event.
However, Sky News TV broadcast the entire press conference live, while others such as Al Jazeera TV broadcast it a day later.
Many FM radio stations in South Sudan such as the UN-sponsored Miraya FM and Eye radio, among others, also broadcast the same event across the country.
However, the state-owned SSTV and radio were unable to broadcast the story despite the presence of its film crew at the press conference.
The Citizen newspaper and TV also shied away from publishing and broadcasting details of the event, most likely out of fears of threats from security personnel.
On Saturday, copies of the Arabic newspaper Al Masir were confiscated at Juba International Airport for comprehensively reporting on the event.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Mathiang Cirino, on Saturday said his driver was taken to taken to the national security office at Jebel and all the copies of the newspaper were confiscated and taken to the national security office at Jebel, but were later on released for distribution.
Copies of the Juba Monitor newspaper were also confiscated on the same day, with its owners ordered to cease distribution due to its coverage of the press conference.
Vice-president James Wani Igga has since announced a counter-press conference, scheduled to be held on Sunday at the same SPLM leadership house.
Among the senior leaders that participated in the press conference criticising Kiir’s actions were Robecca Nyandeng, Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Alfred Lado, Chol Tong, Taban Deng, John Luk, Adwok Nyaba, Majak Agot, Oyai Deng, Madut Biar, Gier Chuang, Luka Monoja, Cirino Hiteng and Ezekiel Lol.