The news of the killing of a South Sudanese journalist has gone viral world over days after President Salva Kiir threatened to “deal” with journalists perceived to be working against the state.
Peter Julius Moi, a reporter for a business weekly The Corporate and an independent bi-monthly New Nation, was shot twice in the back at 8pm on Wednesday near the United Nations Mission (UNMIS)ompound in Jebel Kujur on the outskirts of the capital Juba.
The Editor-in-Chief of New Nation, Els De Temmerman, said in a statement that Moi died instantly and his body was taken to Juba Teaching Hospital.
“As of yet, the identity of his killer(s) and the motive are unknown,” Ms Temmerman noted.
She described Moi’s death as “a great loss” to the media fraternity in the beleaguered nation.
“We condemn his murder in the strongest possible terms and demand a full and independent investigation. The government should demonstrate that it takes the freedom of press and the protection of journalists serious by ensuring that the killer(s) are identified and brought to book,” she said.
The incident came only days after President Kiir, who is currently under pressure from the international community and human rights groups to reach a peace pact with his former deputy-turned rebel leader Riek Machar, threatened to “deal” with journalists perceived to be working against his government and the country, according to various news sources.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned President Kiir’s statement.
Mr Kiir made the statement last week at the airport in the capital, Juba, before flying to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend peace talks with former vice president Dr Machar.
Mr Tom Rhodes, the East Africa representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an aocacy group that promotes press freedom, described the killing as “senseless” as “more and more independent voices are being silenced in South Sudan at this critical time when the public desperately needs impartial information”.
Attack on journalists
Five journalists have been killed in South Sudan in direct connection with their work since the start of the year, making it one of the most dangerous countries in 2015, according to CPJ research.
Negotiations to restore peace in South Sudan hit a snag on Monday after President Kiir declined to sign the peace agreement with Dr Machar after Intergovernmental Authority on Development-led talks. He asked for another 15 days to give it a second thought.
The conflict has so far left at least 5,000 people dead and another two million displaced.