Mmegi Online :: Kenya: TV gagged for Odinga 'inauguration'
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Last Updated
Thursday 22 February 2018, 17:30 pm.
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Kenya: TV gagged for Odinga 'inauguration'

Kenyan authorities have shut down TV stations to prevent live coverage of a swearing-in event by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted last year's disputed presidential election.
By BBC.COM Tue 30 Jan 2018, 14:00 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Kenya: TV gagged for Odinga 'inauguration'








Several hundred supporters gathered at a park in central Nairobi, where the opposition event was due to take place.

The result of the August general election was annulled following allegations of irregularities.

Uhuru Kenyatta won a re-run in October, but Mr Odinga did not take part.

President Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term last November.

He warned the media not to cover Tuesday's event and the attorney general said holding such a ceremony amounted to treason.

However, the main TV stations have been streaming the event on their websites and on YouTube and Facebook.

Speaking to Kenyan broadcaster KTN, Mr Odinga said the media ban "confirms we have descended to the level of Uganda", which stopped media coverage during elections in 2016.

He said his "swearing-in" would "show the world that what we are doing is legal, constitutional and not something you can remotely describe as a coup".

 

How did the TV ban take hold?

Three privately owned television stations - NTV, KTN and Citizen TV - went off air from around 09:10 (06:10 GMT), BBC Monitoring reports.

Citizen TV told the BBC the government authorities had forced them off the air over plans to cover the gathering.

KTN viewers watched their screens fade to black as the news presenter read a statement confirming that the national communications authority was switching off transmission.

But all three broadcasters were providing live coverage online, on YouTube and social media.

Switching off the broadcasting signals of media organisations is unusual in Kenya, the BBC's Anne Soy reports from Nairobi.

Threats have been made in the past and some media groups have been raided but none have had their signal deliberately disrupted, our correspondent says.

Kenyan journalists have denounced

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the move as outrageous, in a statement calling for "respect of the constitution" and an end to the "unprecedented intimidation of journalists".

There was tension in Kenya on Tuesday as some schools closed in the Kenyan capital because of the event, and people did not know what to expect, our correspondent says.

Police initially cordoned off the park, but then withdrew, she adds.

 

What do Odinga supporters say?

One of them, Larry Oyugi, said there was nothing illegal about Tuesday's event: "We have warned the police enough and we are also going as per the constitution. The constitution of Kenya, article one, allows all Kenyans to exercise their power directly.

"This is why we are here to exercise our powers by gathering here and also article 37 allows peaceful assembly. We are citizens of this country, we are allowed to peacefully assemble here and elect our president as per the constitution."

 

Why is the election result disputed?

Mr Kenyatta was officially re-elected with 98% of the vote on 26 October but just under 39% of voters turned out. He was inaugurated in November.

His victory is not recognised by Mr Odinga, who argues he was elected by a small section of the country.

Mr Kenyatta also won the original election on 8 August but that result was annulled by the Supreme Court, which described it as "neither transparent nor verifiable".

When the repeat vote was called, Mr Odinga urged his supporters to shun it because he said no reforms had been made to the electoral commission.

Correspondents say the election dispute has left Kenya deeply divided. About 50 people are reported to have been killed in violence since the August ballot.

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