(MENAFN- The Peninsula) South Sudanese journalists held a 24-hour news blackout yesterday after their colleague was shot dead, days after President Salva Kiir publicly threatened to kill journalists who reported "against the country".
Journalists demanded an investigation into the reporter's killing, while rights groups have said the government should clarify the comments made last week by Kiir. Newspaper journalist Peter Moi was shot twice in the back on Wednesday in an apparently targeted attack, the seventh journalist killed this year in the war-ravaged country. The gunman left Moi's telephone and money in his pockets.
"Freedom of the press does not mean you work against the country," Kiir told journalists Sunday as he left for peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"If anybody among them (journalists) does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time." Journalists gathered yesterday to remember their colleague as the blackout kicked in.
"We hope to raise awareness that journalists are not happy with the way the government has been handling things... and to put pressure on the government to move quickly to get the killer of this boy," said Alfred Taban, head of the Association of Media Development in South Sudan, AMDISS.
The government of the world's youngest nation on Monday refused to ink a power-sharing deal signed by rebels, despite the threat of sanctions and mounting international frustration at the failure to seal a peace accord. The ruling party had planned to hold demonstrations Friday to show their opposition to the deal. However, the rally did not go ahead, although it was not clear if the media blackout had swayed the organisers.
International press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks South Sudan as the 125th worst nation out of 180. "It is absolutely criminal for a president to threaten his country's journalists with death," RSF said in a statement. "Certain words can kill, especially when uttered by a president."
South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that has split the poverty-stricken country along ethnic lines.
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