Is Sudan Tribune out to destroy the South?

logo_sudantribune_impressionSudan Tribune is a France-based news site that has gained in prominence since it was set up in 2003. It describes its main objectives as promoting plural information, democracy and a free debate on Sudan.

Those of us who have been monitoring the website from its early days would recall that it only opened up to southern writers after the CPA was signed in 2005.

Since 2005, the majority of the website’s coverage has been devoted to the south, where majority of its citizens are not only spread around the world, but also read and write English.

Here’s the issue though: the website features a comments box after every article, which serves as its pride as well as fodder for controversy.

To its credit, ST has been able to attract wide-ranging audiences from across southern Sudan to write unfiltered comments on its website.

The outcome of which, as this blogger has surveyed, is a proliferation of incendiary and divisive ethnic rhetoric.

In an ethnically polarized region like the south, it is a fair question to ask whether news websites purporting to be mainstream outlets should be accountable for what its readers post on those websites?

Is it not their responsibility to block vile comments about various ethnic groups of the region from their websites?

The Sudan Tribune didn’t respond to a request of an interview for this post.

In November, during the recording of the third edition of the Seventh Front panel, I asked Mr. Peter Wankomo, the editor of southsudannation.com—a popular commentary website on southern Sudan—which has published similar outrageous views in the past as the ST--where he drew the line between free speech and divisive rhetoric.

Mr. Wankomo responded that “I don’t censor anything.” He reasoned that he encourages “divergent views” since those who would read them on his SSN website are “intellectuals.”

Parek Maduot, a Seventh Front panelist and regular commentator on the New Sudan Vision website, disagreed with the approach.

“I think the idea of a free for all where anyone can come with any opinion, that is biased or is not based on any fact, and give it the same legitimacy as someone who is giving a coherent argument, is not conducive to building a nation,” he said.

Like Parek, I think there should be a limit on what is published on any serious news outlet. To do so is to adhere to journalistic ethics.

To the contrary, on Sudan Tribune’s comments box, the recurring theme among its shadowy writers goes something like this: the Dinka are “slaves” of the Nuer. The Nuer are “food-lovers and traitors.” The Equatorians are “cowards” etc.

It is time for Sudan Tribune to exorcise such kind of dangerous views on its website, unless its agenda is to destroy the south.

**Mading Ngor is a Sudanese Canadian freelance journalist. He's also the editor of the New Sudan Vision. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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