South Sudan and UNMISS Reach Agreement on Radio Miraya Operations

South Sudan and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have resolved their disputes over the registration of the UN-owned radio station, Radio Miraya FM 101, after it faced suspension and censorship threats from the government.

In 2018, the South Sudanese Media Authority suspended Radio Miraya’s operations, alleging non-compliance with national regulations. Despite the suspension, the radio station continued to function uninterrupted, leading to a directive from Information Minister Michael Makuei banning it from covering government events.

Unlike other radio broadcasters in the country, Radio Miraya operates under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the government and the UN in 2011. This unique status has been a point of contention with the Media Authority, which has faced criticism for tightening its grip on press freedom since its establishment in 2016.

However, a breakthrough was achieved as UNMISS Spokesperson Linda Tom announced on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached with the South Sudanese government regarding Radio Miraya’s operations. She emphasized the station’s importance in promoting peace, security, and prosperity for all South Sudanese, especially as the nation prepares for the upcoming elections in December 2024.

Deputy Minister of Information David Maiju Korok expressed satisfaction with the resolution, highlighting that Radio Miraya has now registered with the Media Authority after initial avoidance. The station will soon receive an official certificate, clarifying its relationship with the government.

While the agreement is seen as a step towards cooperation, concerns have been raised by civil society groups. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), hopes that Radio Miraya’s registration will not be misused as a basis for censoring or shutting down the station during critical political events.

Radio Miraya plays a vital role in disseminating impartial, factual, and accurate news about various UN agencies’ activities to the public in South Sudan. Additionally, it broadcasts political programs aimed at fostering peace, which becomes even more crucial as the country gears up for its upcoming elections.

The resolution signals a potential improvement in press freedom and collaborative efforts between the South Sudanese government and the UN to ensure the flow of vital information to citizens during a crucial period in the nation’s history.

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