A South Sudanese veteran journalist, Alfred Taban, has declined President Salva Kiir’s appointment to the National Dialogue Committee amid media crackdown.
Mr. Taban, who is the Editor-In-Chief of the Juba Monitor, a daily newspaper, said he wanted no part in the steering team, unless the president sets free journalists in prison and stops aggression against Press freedom.
“Yes, he (Kiir) appointed me to be a member of the Dialogue Committee but I told him to release journalist George Olivio, then I will accept the appointment,” Mr Taban told reporters when asked about the posting.
Mr. Olivio, who worked for UN-run Radio Miraya, was arrested by South Sudan’s intelligence unit in 2014 but the government is yet to give reasons for his capture.
President Kiir last week announced he would release all political prisoners when he formally launched the National Dialogue. However, observers have expressed some scepticism.
Mr. Taban said he would be delighted if President Kiir put his word into action.
The South Sudanese government has been put on the spot over increased executions of journalists since the start of the war in 2013.
About a dozen journalists have died in the line of duty since the country seceded from Sudan in 2011. Many others have been forced into exile for critical reporting.
South Sudan is ranked among the most deadly countries to practice journalism by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).