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JUBA - 3 Aug 2023

South Sudan lifts ban on Radio Miraya

South Sudan’s government has lifted the ban imposed on the UN-owned radio station after previously being ordered not to cover events.

On 9 March 2018, the Media Authority, a body charged with regulating journalistic practices in the country, suspended the operations of Radio Miraya FM 101, citing non-compliance and refusal to be regulated under South Sudan laws.

The radio station, however, continued to operate without interruption despite the suspension order.   

In April, Information Minister Michael Makuei lashed out at Radio Miraya and reiterated his directive banning the station from covering government events and functions across the country, threatening that its journalists would be arrested.

South Sudan has many radio broadcasters which have been registered with the Media Authority but Radio Miraya was covered under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the government and the UN in the wake of South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Speaking at a press conference held in Juba on Thursday, Elijah Alier Kuai, Managing Director of the Media Authority, said the suspension order and restriction imposed on Radio Miraya is lifted effective from 3 August 2023.

“This is to inform the general public, government institutions, media houses, NGOs, and UN Agencies that the Media Authority has lifted the suspension order and restriction on Radio Miraya FM, effective from Thursday, August 03, 2023,” Alier said.

Alier said the government has officially allocated 101 frequency and operational licenses valid for one year free of charge to Radio Miraya.

For his part, Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said journalists working for the UN-owned radio are now free to cover government events and functions across the country.

“Just to conform to rules and regulations of the state, yes, we are members of the UN and if we are members of the UN, then we will definitely abide by whatever is done in the UN but people should conform with the laws of the country in which you are operating and that is all. It is a free service, registration is free and frequency is issued free, and thereafter you operate freely,” he said.

“I am sure the journalists who attended in this hall last time. I asked if there were anybody from the UNMISS and he said here I am from Miraya FM; that journalist will be free now to attend and you will not be questioned again,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Haysom, Head of the UN Mission (UNMISS), said the registration of Radio Miraya was done without prejudice to the UN rights under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the government and the United Nations in 2011.

 “The resolution is based on the registration of this radio without prejudice of UN rights under the Status of Forces Agreement. It allows and confirms radio frequency in compliance with domestic communication legislation. This administration of formalization of Radio Miraya allows us to serve the people of South Sudan better with independent, impartial, and peaceful podcasts,” Haysom said.

Radio Miraya provides news on the activities of various UN agencies to the public in South Sudan and political programs aimed at fostering peace.