One of South Sudan's popular radio stations went silent May 19 on Jonglei State orders. Then that shutoff was reversed by higher authorities.
Jonglei State Information Minister John Samuel Manyuon ordered the suspension of Radio Jonglei 95.9 FM indefinitely, claiming the station did not respect news bulletin protocols and said it “undermined the state’s leadership.” The station's alleged infraction was not broadcasting a speech by Jonglei State Governor Denay Jok Chagor.
Manyouon told VOA's South Sudan in Focus "On the 16th of May during the celebration of the 39th SPLA day, Radio Jonglei found themselves playing their own politics that are not according to protocol, that is why we issued such an order."
Manyouon's move against the station immediately raised the voices of free speech and media advocates.
Journalists' group Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) leader Josephine Achiiro said Radio Jonglei’s shudown denied South Sudanese their right to press freedoms that are guaranteed in South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution.
“Radio Jonglei has been experiencing such situations, [including] closure of the operations from the state authority. We are asking the governor to be a little bit smart, he can ask for an explanation, he can ask the management of the radio to explain what happened,” Achiiro told South Sudan in Focus.
On May 20, Elija Alier Kuai, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority ordered Jonglei State officials to lift the suspension order on Radio Jonglei “with immediate effect." Kuai directed "Let Radio Jonglei resume its normal transmissions freely, without further interference.”
Kuai noted the station is a registered community radio station by law, independent of government, political and commercial forces.
In his communications to Manyuon, Kuai told Jonglei authorities to desist from interfering with the independent editorial policies of media houses.
In the wake of the station's shutdown, ADMISS' Achiro urged Jonglei State officials to resolve issues through dialogue rather than directives.