News / Africa

South Sudan President Not Stifling Debate on Federalism, Spokesman Says

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, shown here addressing reporters at a news conference in Juba, is not trying to silence critics, his spokesman says.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, shown here addressing reporters at a news conference in Juba, is not trying to silence critics, his spokesman says.
Philip Aleu

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir is not trying to stifle the debate about whether South Sudan should switch to a federal system of government, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny also insisted that the debate on federalism -- a system under which power is shared between states and the central government -- has not created divisions in President Kiir’s government or put critics of the presidential system president in danger.

"There is no way the president could conspire... to eliminate critics simply because they are talking of federalism,” Ateny said.

Stoked by social media

Ateny said social media were largely to blame for spreading false information among South Sudanese and stoking fears among the population.

“These rumors of spies being sent out, people are going to be assassinated and you name it are just the creation of the social media. There is no plan of that kind. There is nobody who has been arrested," Ateny said.

Before he was named Mr Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny said, he was one of the biggest critics of the government, and nothing ever happened to him.

There is no way the president could conspire... to eliminate critics simply because they are talking of federalism.

“I could have been one of the people who could have been behind bars," he said. "I don’t think there is anybody who has challenged any establishment more than me, among you here. I have done that, I have never been arrested.”

Ateny spoke to South Sudan in Focus a day after newspaper and broadcast editors wrote a letter to Information Minister Michael Makuei, complaining that people claiming to be government security agents have ordered them not to report on the debate about federalism.

In April, South Sudanese journalists complained that media rights are being severely eroded.

"There is a lot of government interference, there is a lot of harassment, a lot of intimidation by government officials," veteran journalist Alfred Taban said at the time.

"That means that the media cannot really play its role, which is to educate, to entertain and to inform the people,” Taban said, adding that things have become worse since the country plunged into violence in December.

Ateny, who was a civil society activist prior to his appointment as presidential spokesman, said reporters should inform him when journalists are arrested for criticizing Mr. Kiir or his government.

But journalists are skeptical that the government will take any action on their behalf. They often cite the case of political commentator Isaiah Abraham, a staunch critic of Mr. Kiir who was killed by gunmen suspected of belonging to the South Sudanese security forces.

The government launched an investigation into Abraham's murder, but no one has ever been detained for it.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Barkaman from: Greater pipor
July 03, 2014 2:18 PM
Reall every bod shuld must repect mr. Kirr becouse he's exacellcy he's the president of s.sudan that he do all of things for s.sudan people instead of doing civil war all time it is good for no things
dear kirr
i do write to you to be strong to rule the people of s.sudan and keep up

by: wicjial Tuor Koang from: KRT Sudan
July 03, 2014 1:08 AM
The govt was and still harassing social media

by: Lisa from: Tx
July 02, 2014 10:08 PM
Mr kiir, the presendent of south Sudan, will never accept civilazanation . He is still believeing in cattle politicking. Unless he put off the hat. Could be he will joint civilazanation . He said federal system have to wait why? Its because Dr riek is for federal system, and people do understand what they are talking about . Kiir can not explain anything because of his studipity. Back to reports why are you talking to the fools who are send by kiir. Once understand that anything good for the people is not good for kiirs government. Your job is to tell the truth about peoples suffering and what they think about the coming generation. Your being regarded as rebel supports now you understand the power of studipity. They will get rid of you one by one. Before you report anything ask God to bless could be that is your last day on this earth, your in the war between Good and evil. May God bless you to tell the truth about Gods suffering people.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs