Information Minister Ready For Dialogue With Journalists

South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth [Gurtong]

Last month, he called for registration of all journalists in the country and media agencies with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The order was released just days after Sudan Tribune published a story about the health of President Salva Kiir.

Most journalists rejected the order to register individually at the ministry, saying they were ready to have dialogue with the minister and would comply once the Media Authority is established.

Makuei said the registration will later be carried out by the Media Authority which is yet to be established after the media bills are signed by the President into laws.

“It is this media authority that will sit down and write the regulations of the media laws,” Makuei said. “And from that time whatever we have done here will be handed to the media authority.”

The South Sudan media laws; the Public Broadcasting Bill, Media Authority Bill and Access to Information bill were passed by the Parliament earlier this month and now await the signature of the President to effect them into laws.

The Media Authority will give the legal framework for regulation of the media agencies in the country. It will be composed of media representatives and government officials. 

“We will try our best to ensure that the media authority is operational so that we will see how far you will fare with the media authority,” said Makuei.

Journalists had earlier on challenged the order, saying it is not based on any legal framework.

Earlier efforts between the representatives of the journalists and the Minister in pursuance for dialogue in the previous week could not yield any fruits.

Makuei claimed that, his move was aimed at creating a good ground for his Ministry to protect journalists from harassment and unnecessary arrests.

However, the journalists raised fears, saying the move is in connection with security agencies aimed at targeting their work.

Following the order, relations between the private media in the country and the government started turning sour.

Journalists welcomed the seemingly softening of the minister. “The move is good and we appreciate it,” Alfred Taban, Editor In Chief of The Juba Monitor and Head of the Committee representing the journalists while handling the matter said to Gurtong.

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