South Sudanese Official Urges Media Authority to Help Journalists Cover Ecumenical Trip

Pope Francis and President Salva Kiir at the Vatican in 2019. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A government official in South Sudan has urged the Media Authority in the East-Central African nation to support local journalists to “broadly” cover the envisioned July ecumenical visit that is to involve Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

Pope Francis is expected to arrive in South Sudan on July 5 in his two-African-nation pastoral trip that is to begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on July 2. 

In a May 16 report by The City Review, South Sudan’s Commissioner of Information has been quoted as saying, “Local journalists should be supported in ensuring they get timely updates on the Pope’s activities in the country.”

“We will have very important visitors in the country. I want you (Media Authority) to do your job and ensure that local journalists cover the visit by the Pope and other Anglican leaders broadly,” Moyiga Nduru adds.

The South Sudanese official further says that local journalists “should be treated with the same respect as internationals who are expected to cover the Pontiff’s maiden tour to Juba.”


“I would like to use this opportunity to call on our officials, particularly the media authorities, to assist in ensuring that our journalists be at the fore front, just like the international journalists following the Pope,” Mr. Nduru has been quoted as saying. 

In the report, he further says that “when it comes to such occasions, government officials have preferential treatment to foreign media compared to local journalists.”

“Our journalists must receive the same treatment, not like what we used to witness in most cases where our journalists are normally taken far away on such important occasions,” Mr. Nduru says.

On his part, the Director of South Sudan’s Media Authority, Elijah Alier, has been quoted as committing to the provision of a favorable environment to members of the press during the ecumenical visit.

“We are committed to the development of an independent, professional, and pluralistic media that promotes the development of South Sudanese values and artistic creativity while adhering to the law’s requirements for public order, safety, and morals,” Mr. Alier has been quoted as saying.

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He adds, “I urged government officials to stop interfering with editorial work for the media to continue delivering information to the public.”

If realized, Pope Francis will become the first Pope to visit South Sudan, the world’s newest nation that gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan on 9 July 2011.

The July 2-7 pastoral trip to DRC and South Sudan is to mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa. The journey will be the third Papal trip to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.