The Communication Authority of Kenya has switched off several television stations for attempting to broadcast the 'swearing in' ceremony of former opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
KTN News, Citizen TV and radio, NTV, Inooro TV were switched off air on free-to-air platforms. The television stations however maintained the live broadcast on their digital and social media platforms.
The switch off came after the televisions carried live the arrival of opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) supporters at Uhuru Park in Kenya's capital, Nairobi this morning for the swearing in of Odinga and Stephen Kalonzyo Musyoka as president and vice president of Kenya respectively.
Government officials had declared the 'swear in' as an act of treason. Akin to Uganda's 2016 elections situation when opposition presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye swore himself in as the 'people's president', Kenyan opposition maintains it won last year's August presidential election. Besigye was later arrested and charged with treason and the matter is still in court.
BACKGROUND TO ODINGA SWEAR IN
After the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner of the presidential election, Odinga petitioned court contesting the results. The Supreme court nullified the election citing election irregularities before ordering for fresh elections.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission then organized a second election, which Odinga boycotted, giving Kenyatta an easy victory.
James Orengo, a top opposition coalition official, maintains that Odinga won the August 2017 election by 300,000 votes.
"If anybody had any doubt as to why Raila Odinga should be sworn-in as a president of the Republic of Kenya, if you go through the document, you will come to the conclusion that truly not only was Raila Odinga and his excellency Kalonzo Musyoka elected on the 8th of August 2017, but Kenyans should go ahead and take the position which we have taken," Orengo said.
The Kenya Union of Journalists has condemned the intimidation of media houses and journalists for covering the swearing in ceremony.
"It has come to our attention that the Jubilee administration intimidated senior media managers not to air live National Super Alliance (Nasa) ceremony at Uhuru Park during which Raila Odinga and Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka were expected to "take oath of office". This is the second time meetings have been held at State House to give directions to senior media managers on how to make editorial decisions in newsrooms," said Erick Oduor, the secretary general Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ).
He says that a similar meeting was held in State House in 2014, which resulted in the exit of Mark Kapchanga from Standard Media after authoring a detailed story on the cabinet retreat in Nanyuki that had gobbled up millions of taxpayers' money without justification.
"The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) takes exception to unprecedented intimidation of journalists and calls for respect to the Constitution of Kenya, which gives the media freedom to carry out its duties as a watchdog without influence from any institution. KUJ supports the position that has been expressed by Kenya Editors Guild on last Friday's meeting at State House, during which Riots Act was reportedly read to those in attendance," he noted.
Adding that, "We find it outrageous for the government to intimidate journalists yet it has an obligation under the UN Plan of Action, which requires that it protects journalists and prosecute those who violate the rights of journalists."