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As South Sudan Seizes Nation Mirror, UN Asks Only Of Itself

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 18 -- After South Sudan's  Minister of Information and Broadcasting Michael Makuei threatened to shut down the UN's Radio Miraya and justified closing other media, Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq on February 17 if the UN accepts censorship.

  Haq said no - but will Radio Miraya going forward not broadcast interviews of exiled politicians? What has the UN said about the seizing of the print run of Nation Mirror, which Makuei defended, here courtesy of Radio Tamazuj? Haq did not respond on this, apparently not having heard of it.

 On February 18, the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric returned with this: "From South Sudan, the Head of the UN Mission in [South Sudan] (UNMISS), Ellen Margrethe LÝj, met the countryís Minister for Information and Broadcasting and expressed her concerns following his remarks about shutting down operations of Radio Miraya ó the UN radio operating in that country.  Ms. LÝj received assurances from the Minister that Radio Miraya broadcasts will continue according to UNMISS' mandate and as stipulated in the Status of Forces Agreement signed between the UN and the Government of South Sudan. "

 Inner City Press immediately asked a follow up:

Inner City Press: I'd asked about this Radio Miraya thing yesterday.  And I just wonder, because, also, as part of the question, they've closed down other newspapers there.  I want to know, in her meeting with the Minister for Information, who also talked about throwing the whole Mission out, she raised the issue of other media in the country being closed down by the Government.

Spokesman Dujarric:  This is what I have from the meeting.  I don't have anything else to share with you, but obviously, our stance on the need for the press to operate freely continues and is unaltered.

Inner City Press: I don't know if you will or not, but I want to, for the record, ask you:  Can you confirm that Mr. JŠn Kubiö is the Secretary-General's nominee to replace Nickolay Mladenov in Iraq, as [Inner City Press] reported?

Spokesman:  Matthew, you know the drill.  No.

Inner City Press:  He's not?

Spokesman:  I cannot confirm.

Inner City Press:  When will you?

Spokesman:  When I announce it, I will confirm it.

  Under Herve Ladsous, UN Peacekeeping stays silent on many things, for example on injured peacekeepers in Mali in recent days -- Inner City Press asked Haq about them, with no response at the noon briefing -- to inaction on the FDLR in the DR Congo to the mass rapes in Tabit (despite which some sanctions were eased on Sudan today, click here for Inner City Press story on that). But direct censorship by a host government? We'll have more on this.

Background: back on May 6, 2014, when the US imposed sanctions on Gadet, Inner City Press asked:

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you. Our next question is from the other Matt Lee, Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Great. Thanks a lot, [Moderator]. I wanted to ask, there was a Ė it was said that in Security Council consultations at the UN that senior government officials were named in a radio broadcast prior to the attacks in Bor on the UN compound in killing the civilians. I just wonder if you can say are these people Ė is that the case? Do you know the names of people that sort of called for that attack, and in which case, why arenít they on this list?

And I also Ė this might for Senior Administration Official Number Two. Secretary Kerry was talking about a legitimate force to help make peace. And I just wanted to know, is the UN Ė is the U.S. thinking of that as part of UNMISS mission or as the IGAD force? And if so, would it require a Security Council approval? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: On the first, I mean, we typically do not comment on actors against whom we are Ė we have not yet Ė we have not yet acted, a clunky way of saying we donít comment on those who are not part of our designation. But anyone who is contributing to the violence, whether thatís by directing violence, whether thatís by funding it, fueling it, contributing arms, can be a subject of designation in the future. And Iíll leave it to my State Department colleague to answer the second question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. On the question about the regional force and on UNMISS, we Ė it is something that conversations and discussions are ongoing between countries of IGAD, with New York, with ourselves and others on how best to create this additional force presence that we are working very much with UNMISS and see this as part of the same effort. But we do think itís very important that the regional forces are able to join this effort in larger numbers and appreciate the efforts of, particularly, the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, who are leading the mediation and who are seeking to work with UNMISS in this regard.


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