The government of South Sudan has warned a community radio station affiliated with the Roman Catholic church in the western part of the country that it will be closed unless it stops covering politics.
The warning to the Voice of Hope station based in Wau, the capital of South Sudan's western Bahr el Ghazal, follows the Aug. 16 closure of another Catholic radio station, Radio Bakhita, based in the capital Juba, according to Reporters Without Borders. Voice of Hope is the only independent FM station in the state.
The state's deputy governor, Joseph Garang Zachariah, described Voice of Hope as a destructive station and said it should limit its broadcasts to homilies and gospel music after the station reported that 500 South Sudanese youth in London had joined the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), a breakaway faction of South Sudan's ruling SPLM, the Catholic Radio Network reported.
Fighting between the ethnic Nuer dominated SPLM-IO and the Dinka-dominated SPLM began in January following a dispute between South Sudan's Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, and President Salva Kiir, a Dinka.
In August, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a joint call for South Sudan's National Security Service to stop shuttering media outlets and harassing and detaining journalists. Reporters in South Sudan are regularly barred from visiting camps for internally displaced people, hospitals, morgues and mass grave sites, according to the country's Radio Tamazuj.