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Media watchdog outraged over suspension of South Sudan critical newspaper

Day after day, the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, seems to be taking a plunge toward an abyss of dictatorship and lawlessness. The latest democratic blunder is the closing down this week of Nation Mirror, an independent newspaper based in the capital Juba.

It is believed that Nation Mirror is suspended over its continuous criticism of the government of President Salva Kiir.

The newspaper on Wednesday evening made the following announcement on its Facebook page: “The National Security in Juba order forced closure of the Nation Mirror Newspaper today. There was no reason cited by the Security. However, the Paper would inform its readership on the any development.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is outraged by Nation Mirror’s unjustified suspension, and has called on the country’s authorities to immediately reopen it.

“President Salva Kiir’s government should immediately allow the Nation Mirror to resume publication,” CPJ’s East Africa representative Murithi Mutiga said in a statement posted on the media watchdog’s website. “South Sudan needs more, not fewer, independent and critical voices.

“Preventing professional journalists from doing their work will not advance efforts to build a democratic and stable South Sudan.”

Nothing seems to be going well since South Sudan broke away from Islam-bound Sudan in 2011. Kiir’s regular army and rebels supporting his former VP Riek Machar – now believed to be hiding in the DRC – are engaged in a merciless war over power, oil money and political influence.

Kiir, who Machar accuses of being a dictator, has been cracking down on critical media for some time.

This is not the first time that Nation Mirror has been troubled by the regime, CPJ said, adding that the paper was first ordered to close in February 2015.

Paul Jacob Kumbo, South Sudan’s director general of information, told CPJ he did not know why the paper was closed or how long it would remain shuttered.

“This was a decision by the security officials and I am still waiting for more information on it,” he said.

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