Special Representative of the Secretary-General & Head of UNMISS, Nicholas Haysom's remarks at today's Government of South Sudan press conference
Honourable Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration
Honourable Minister for Information
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and the Ministry of Information, for organizing this event to mark the resolution of the disputes and issues over the operations of the UN’s radio station, Radio Miraya. The resolution is based on the registration of this radio, without prejudice to any of the UN’s rights under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). It allows and confirms the radio frequency in compliance with the domestic communications legislation.
This administrative formalization of Radio Miraya allows us to serve the people of South Sudan better with independent, impartial, and peace-focused broadcasts.
Since its establishment in 2006, Radio Miraya has consistently served as the “Voice of Peace,” airing views of a wide spectrum of South Sudanese. Working under the SOFA signed with the government, and within our mandate, the station delivered and delivers relevant broadcasts to the largest number of people across the country.
I say this in reference to a recent independently-conducted Perception Survey that showed that South Sudanese cited this radio as their primary news source [with more than eighty per cent (80%) listening to Radio Miraya]. Additionally, more than ninety per cent (90%) of the respondents said they believed that Radio Miraya is fair, impartial, and accurate in its reporting.
Today, we received the guarantee that our frequency, 101FM, will be retained as Radio Miraya frequency, and all restrictions of our coverage of government related events are removed.
The importance of Radio Miraya cannot be overstated, especially as this nation prepares to organise free, fair, and credible elections in December 2024. We have been requested by the Government to render our support to preparations for the electoral process. We can agree that with the challenging transportation, communications, and logistical issues in most parts of the country, there is no way that there can be any effective civic and voter education without media platforms that reach the length and breaths of the country.
UNMISS remains a partner for peace and intends to be part of the solution. In the lead up to elections, we intend to also support the creation of a conducive civic and political space, as part of our assistance. This means empowering the media to provide a level playing field for the expression of different views and opinions, as well as engage in a debate on the political and constitutional choices facing the nation.
Let me highlight that it is in the interests of all stakeholders in South Sudan, especially the parties to the R-ARCSS, that a conducive political and civic environment is fostered so that it ensures that the elections are deemed to be credible in the eyes of South Sudanese. This includes the free operation of the media to give the people of South Sudan the opportunity to exercise their freedom without fear or threat, irrespective of religious, ethnic, geographical, or political affiliations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I end my remarks, I wish to thank the many people who have contributed to bring us to the solution of this problem.
I want to thank Honourable Deng Dau Deng, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, for facilitating meetings and discussions on this matter and being a guide in finding this particular solution.
I want to particularly thank my old friend, Honourable Minister for Information, Mr. Michael Makuei Lueth, whose candid discussions and cooperation helped in finding a solution.
Allow me to posthumously acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Ibukunolu Babajide, popularly known as IBK, my Chief of Legal Affairs and Senior Legal Advisor, who dedicated years to help bridge our differences on this issue in particular. He passed away on the 18th of June during an official travel from UN Headquarters, and he among others, engaged several members of the transitional government and our Office of Legal Affairs in UN Headquarters on this issue. In his honour, I would ask you all just to observe a moment of silence.
Thank you very much.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We look forward to a positive and constructive partnership between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and UNMISS, in Radio Miraya’s operations in the best interest of the people of South Sudan.
I thank you.