A definite advantage to being based in Juba for a researcher like me is having access to Sudanese news publications on a daily basis. There are a number of northern Sudanese papers available online in Arabic, in addition to a few popular online Sudan news sources in English (Sudantribune.com and Gurtong.net are good places to start, and see the blog Roving Bandit for some more links to mainly southern-focused sites).
However, the most widely read southern Sudanese papers are not available online. Reading these papers provides an excellent glimpse into the issues that southerners think are important. From op-eds to general news articles, papers like The Citizen (which is printed in Khartoum and flown down to Juba daily, because there is not yet a functioning printing press in Juba) present a southern perspective that is well worth paying attention to. Here are some clips from some local English language daily papers from the past week:
‘We as women, we are happy that [the] Government gave 25% [through the women’s party list procedure passed in the South Sudan Legislative Assembly]. However, still there are opportunities of upgrading it to 50% as long as the attainment of total peace is concerned in Southern Sudan and Sudan in general,’ said Mrs. Jennifer Babel, Chairlady for Women Union in Central Equatoria.
— “Women call for peace building through gender equity,” (Juba Post, March 11-15)
…raising the problem of the Nile water with countries that share the water should be approached in a quiet and rational manner that takes into account the interest of all parties without discrimination and under the principle that negotiations are the best avenue no matter how great the problems are.
— “The Nile Water predicament,” (The Ciitzen, March 8)
[In Central Equatoria] 50% in Juba expected Kiir to win because, according to them, power, the army and everything is in the hands of SPLM [the ruling party in the South]. The also believed that Kiir would be President of GoSS with or without elections.
–Selected results from public opinion poll conducted by Vision Center for Public Opinion Studies on prospects of candidates for the Presidency of the GoSS [360 people were polled in Upper Nile, Western Bahr-al-Ghazal, Jonglei and Central Equatoria states] (The Citizen, March 3)
Some people and political parties are continuously calling for the delay of the coming elections for more preparation and for the participation of the Darfur region. I also ask why not delay the elections if there is the possibility of the participation of Darfur! I also prefer the delay of the elections, but there needs doubling [of] the political efforts to solve the Darfur crisis during that period.
–“New Dawn” column by Ahmed Adam titled “Current political issues,” (Khartoum Monitor, March 6)
A magazine called The Parliamentarian provides yet another perspective. Its Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Julia Aker Duany, a respected southern Sudanese scholar and current under-secretary of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan. In her “Editor’s Notes” from the January edition of the magazine, Dr. Duany writes:
One item that I can unequivocally state is that in the Sudan there is never a dull moment…Unlike all of the political punditry online, local, and international media have stated, Sudan has not fallen back into a chaotic war, residing into the depths of a failed state. We are not perfect, by any means, but we are managing our delicate relationship in this experiment called the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
As the elections approach and the campaign season continues at full swing, I’ll try to post clips from local papers from time to time to highlight the array of opinions from southern Sudanese media on the polls.
Photo: Journalist Nhial Deng at the Juba office of the newspaper The Citizen (Enough/Laura Heaton)