S. Sudanese authorities deny ordering newspaper closure

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September 17, 2016 (JUBA) - A senior official at South Sudan’s information
ministry says it has no knowledge about the recent closure of an
independent English daily newspaper.
[image: JPEG - 44.9 kb]*South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei
Lueth, speaks to reporters in Jonglei state capital Bor on 25 December 2014
(ST)*

South Sudan’s director general of information, Paul Jacob Kumbo, said he
was unaware of the decision behind closure of the *Nation Mirror* newspaper.

"I cannot say anything about this because I am not unaware of the reasons
for which the paper you are talking about was closed. So I cannot also
comment on when it will resume. It is the responsibility of the national
security and they are the ones to decide," he said.

He was reacting days after the Juba-based newspaper was closed by
authorities.

The decision by operatives drew a significant attention of the media
advocacy group and the international organizations advocating for upholding
of freedom of expression as well as right to gathering and disseminating
information in the interest of the public.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in a statement issued on
Thursday, called on South Sudan authorities to immediately re-open the
paper. The statement was in reaction to reports that security services
ordered the independent daily to close.

"The newspaper’s editor, Aurelions Simon Cholee says security officials
summoned editors and accused them of "engaging in activities that are
incompatible with the newspaper’s registration status," but did not offer
further explanation.

Cholee said that authorities ordered the *Nation Mirror* closed and did not
specify when it would be able to resume publication. The paper’s website
was last updated on 13 September.

In its most recent edition, the *Nation Mirror* covered a report by The
Sentry, a Washington advocacy group, which alleged that President Salva
Kiir and his rival, the former vice president Riek Machar, had amassed
enormous wealth and invested it in multimillion dollar properties abroad,
while a conflict triggered by a dispute between the pair has left many
citizens in South Sudan living in poverty.

"President Salva Kiir’s government should immediately allow the Nation
Mirror to resume publication," said Murithi Mutiga, CPJ’s East Africa
representative.

"South Sudan needs more, not fewer, independent and critical voices.
Preventing professional journalists from doing their work will not advance
efforts to build a democratic and stable South Sudan," he added.

The *Nation Mirror* was closed before. In February 2015, CPJ documented how
National Security Service agents seized a print run and issued a publishing
ban after the paper was accused of printing anti-government reports.

The media environment in South Sudan has deteriorated in recent months. CPJ
reported in July that the major daily, *Juba Monitor*, was ordered closed
and its editor, Alfred Taban, was arrested after he wrote a column critical
of both Kiir and Machar.

(ST)

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