South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, has withdrawn a threat to kill journalists who criticize him.
Before leaving for Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Kiir addressed press in Juba where he threatened to kill them if they continued reporting badly against his government.
“If anybody [journalists] does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time. … Freedom of the press does not mean you work against the country,” Kiir was recorded saying.
On Wednesday, Peter Moi Julius, a journalist working with a Corporate Weekly newspaper, was shot dead in the capital Juba.
South Sudan responded by imposing a 24-hour media blackout as they join the fraternity and the family in mourning Moi.
Moi Juliuswas shot twice in the back on Wednesday night and his body dumped in the Jebel area of Juba.
Moi is the seventh journalist to be killed this year in South Sudan.
Media organizations as well as the US government condemned the murder and demanded that Kiir withdraws his statements.
In a statement released Saturday, the Office of the President said Kiir was quoted out of context.
“This was just a reminder to South Sudanese Journalists, not a threat of inhalation [sic] against Journalists as it was distorted,” read the statement.
“Nothing shall harm a Journalist when he/she is going about his/her journalistic profession.”
According to radio Tamazuj, the Saturday statement from the Presidency further said Kiir is “a keen protector of the right to freedom of expression and fundamental human rights, and so he cannot threat anyone of killing.”
“The President of the republic didn’t have any intention to threat, or to effect killing of any life.”
However, the Presidency threatened journalists with legal action: “If a journalist has fails to render his/her journalistic duties in accordance with professional practice of Journalism, the best place for them is to face a libel either in tort or criminal law.”
Nonetheless, the statement by the presidency doesn’t condemn nor mention Moi’s killing.