Six journalists in South Sudan have been detained over the circulation of footage showing President Salva Kiir appearing to wet himself at an official event.
The South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation footage aired in December and was widely shared online showed 71-year-old President Salva Kiir standing during the national anthem and then looking down at what appeared to be him urinating before the camera turned away.
The clip, filmed during an official event, shows South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir standing for the national anthem, initially oblivious as a stain spreads on his trousers and a pool forms at his feet. The camera abruptly turns away after Kiir and his entourage appear to notice what is happening.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported Friday that six journalists for the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation were detained for unauthorized release of the footage. The video was widely shared on social media last month. Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, said the arrests match a “pattern of security personnel resorting to arbitrary detention whenever officials deem coverage unfavourable”.
“Authorities should unconditionally release these six SSBC employees and ensure that they can work without further intimidation or threat of arrest,” Mumo said. Kiir became the first president of South Sudan – Africa’s newest country – in 2011. Under his leadership, the country has undergone brutal conflict, hunger and political turmoil. An election scheduled for 2024 would be the first since Kiir took office.
Officials with the president’s office and the national broadcaster refused to comment. The presidential election was recently postponed again, this time to late 2024, amid the slow implementation of a 2018 peace deal ending a five-year civil war. Mr Kiir has been South Sudan’s only president since the country won independence from Sudan in 2011.