Sunday 15 December 2019

Kenyan government allows two TV stations to resume broadcasting

Four stations had initially been shut down after opposition leader Raila Odinga held a mock inauguration, declaring himself “the people’s president”.

Kenya civil rights groups protest on the streets of Nairobi (AP)
Kenya civil rights groups protest on the streets of Nairobi (AP)

By Tom Odula

Kenya’s government has restored transmission to two of the four TV stations it shut down seven days ago, as police fired tear gas on crowds demonstrating against violations of constitutional freedoms.

The Kenya Television Network and Nation Television News (NTN) both transmitted again following talks with the government.

Service has not been restored to Citizen TV and the vernacular language service Inooro TV, said NTN chief Linus Kaikai, who is also the chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild.

Meanwhile, police have fired tear gas at a peaceful demonstration of about 100 protesters expressing outrage over the government’s “blatant violation of the constitution”, rights activist Njonjo Mue said.

Premier Uhuru Kenyatta’s government had shut down transmission of the four popular TV channels last week when they attempted to broadcast the mock inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as the “people’s president”.

The mock inauguration was held last week (AP)

Mr Odinga charges that Mr Kenyatta won elections last year through fraud.

The government ignored court orders to restore the remaining two stations’ transmission and to release opposition activist Miguna Miguna. Mr Miguna was arrested after standing beside Mr Odinga during the protest inauguration and signing the document as a witness.

Mr Odinga’s fake inauguration last week was attended by tens of thousands of opposition supporters in the capital, Nairobi.

The government responded to Mr Odinga’s event by declaring his opposition movement a criminal organisation and investigating “conspirators” in the ceremony.

Opposition MP TJ Kajwang, who stood beside Mr Odinga and wore a judicial robe, was arrested on Wednesday and taken to court, where police fired tear gas at his supporters. It is not clear what charges were pressed against Mr Kajwang, but he has been released on bail.

Kenya’s supreme court nullified Mr Kenyatta’s election in August after Mr Odinga claimed that hackers infiltrated the electoral commission’s computer system and changed results in favour of Mr Kenyatta. The ruling, citing irregularities and illegalities, was the first time a court had overturned a presidential election in Africa. The court ordered a fresh election in October which Mr Kenyatta won after Mr Odinga boycotted it, claiming a lack of electoral reforms.

PA Media

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