President Salva Kiir’s Presidential spokesperson has backtracked on his earlier statement he made to Eye Radio that Troika submitted a letter with preconditions for funding the Transitional Government of National Unity.
The letter, allegedly written by Troika to TGoNU, called for revocation of the 28 States, dismissal of the Minister of Finance, David Deng Athorbei and Central Bank governor Kornelio Koryom Mayiik.
Mr. Ateny was first interviewed by a news reporter on Monday morning and later in the evening by the presenter of Sundown program. In the 19-minute telephone interview, he explained, in detail, having knowledge of the said letter.
Eye Radio phoned Troika office and the Press Officer, Charles Luganya, informed the News Team that he was consulting and would get back to the station. By close of business on Monday, Mr Charles wasn’t able to confirm or deny the authenticity of the letter.
The following morning [June 21st] the U.S Embassy, on behalf of the Troika countries, issued a statement saying: “The Troika wishes to clarify that the allegation of having sent a letter demanding changes to Government positions is false. The Troika and its partners remain committed to working with the Transitional Government of National Unity, and all its Ministers, to ensure a coherent approach to the economic challenges faced by South Sudan.”
Ateny Wek statement
Four hours after the Troika statement, Ateny Wek issued his own statement denying making such claims.
“The news which came from the Eye Radio, echoed by Sudantribune.com that I had confirmed the receipt of the letter written by the Troika asking the President to sack the Minister of Finance and the Governor of Central Bank are not true. Rather, I just reacted to the question put to me by the Eye Radio’s reporter about the statement from Troika pertinent to the subject matter,” Mr Ateny wrote on his Facebook page.
The statement further said: “The Eye Radio was the source of the information, which I had to react to. I didn’t volunteer any statement in respect of the alleged letter written by the Troika. In this, I urge the News Editors in the Eye Radio to check their audios on how did the news of the alleged letter written by the Troika came to their studios in the first place before seeking my reaction.”
Eye Radio statement
On Monday June 20th, 2016, Eye Radio News desk was informally informed by a source that the Council of Ministers was told by the international community, particularly Troika, about their opinion to replace Finance Minister David Deng Athorbei and Central Bank Governor Kornelio Koryom Mayiik.
In order to verify the accuracy of the news tip, the News Editor recommended two main sources that would verify the information: the Office of the President and Troika.
The intention of calling Ateny Wek as a source at the presidency was to confirm whether such letter reached the Office of the President. In response, Mr. Ateny claimed to have knowledge of the said letter.
Below is a transcript of part of the 19-minute interview with Rosemary Alfred, the Sundown presenter.
Rosemary: And Ateny Wek Ateny, if you can also share with us when this letter was actually delivered and who signed it, and also to whom was it exactly addressed?
Ateny Wek: Well, it is addressed to the government of the Republic of South Sudan – meaning the government…the Transitional Government of National Unity, which is led by President Salva Kiir, deputize by the first Vice President, Riek Machar…Dr. Riek Machar and Vice President James Wani, and all the 30 Ministers, and you know eight deputy ministers. Uh you know the address was to them. I understand that there are a number of issues the Troika wanted to be….you know… the Troika wanted to be done before they come up with any help, you know – that they can bailout South Sudan, of course financially. Always those who pay have always a condition.
And in the 13th Minute, Mr. Ateny insinuated having had knowledge of half-deliberations that took place -over the said letter -during the Council of Ministers meeting, 3 days before Eye Radio got the tip from its source. He revealed this information when Rosemary asked him to confirm whether the said letter has reached the attention of any authority in the TGoNU. The question’s intend was to verify the authenticity of the letter:
Rosemary: Okay, Ateny Wek, has the government officially responded to this letter?
Ateny Wek: Well, the government, in its sitting on Friday, you know, actually placed this as one of the…of the…the agenda to be discussed, which has not been discussed on that Friday. But it will…it will be discussed and the response will be actually made accordingly in response to… or even in form of meetings. Maybe the economic sector –you know –going out to inform those concerned, the donors, and those who are concerned internationally to help South Sudan on the basis of what will be agreed in the next meeting.
This response by Mr. Ateny, implies that the Council of Ministers was already aware of this letter as of Friday June 17th, 2016. Eye Radio was informed by its source on Monday June 20th, 2016.
As a common practice in any news room, actual news stories are randomly generated from various sources; they come inform of tips, eyewitness accounts, press release or conferences, and as follow up suggestions. These tips are then followed up by our journalists who make calls to relevant authorities to verify such information. Once it is verified, it goes to our listeners as a story. In this case, Ateny Wek, as the Press Secretary of President Salva Kiir had the right to treat this as a ‘rumor’ and Eye Radio would have dropped the story -as has been the case for past stories.
Note: Eye Radio – as a matter of principle -protects it sources. We are always mindful of news ideas that will generate hate, incitement and those that lack journalistic ethics in its portrayal. Our primary source of information is usually with people in authority –who have the right to deny or confirm any story that is brought to their attention. Eye Radio does not coerce its sources to reveal information that would be detrimental to the position of the source and that of the station and our listeners.
Mr Ateny speaks to our presenter Rosemary.
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