(Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Tuesday shut
down four popular mainstream TV channels and several radio
stations ahead of the planned swearing-in of Opposition leader
Raila Odinga as the People’s President in the capital of
Odinga is to be sworn-in alongside his
deputy Kalonzo Musyoka in a controversial ceremony, which the
government had outlawed, terming the action treasonable.
Odinga and Musyoka have maintained
that they won the August election, in which President Uhuru
Kenyatta was declared the winner and his election nullified by
the Supreme Court later. However, he was elected in a repeat
poll on Oct. 26.
The shutting down of the stations
followed a directive that had asked media houses not to televise
the opposition event.
Nearly all the private mainstream
media stations had started showing the event early Tuesday
morning, an action that led to the shutdown.
Among those switched off by the
Communication Commission of Kenya (CA) were NTV, KTN and Citizen
televisions and a host of radio stations allied to the channels.
“We would like to confirm that this
morning, the CA disconnected Citizen TV and Inooro TV
transmission. There has been no official communication as to
why this action was taken,” said Wachira Waruru, the
managing director of Royal Media Services, which owns
“We are actively engaging the relevant
government authorities to establish the reason for the
action and we hope to resume normal transmission soon,”
added Waruru, as the stations and others turned to social
media to update their audiences.
On Monday, it emerged President Uhuru
Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto had held a meeting with
several media executives in which the government threatened to
revoke licenses of the stations that would air the event.
Kenya Editors Guild called the action
of shutting down the stations an affront to media freedom and
noted that the media was not an actor in the ongoing contest
between ruling party Jubilee and opposition National Super
“The media remains a messenger and a
chronicler of events happenings in the country, which has a
vibrant industry made up of competent professional in
journalists and editors that continue to make sound decisions of
what constitutes news,” said Linus Kaikai, chairman of the Kenya
Editors Guild, in a statement on Monday evening.
Some analysts on Tuesday blamed the
Kenyan media for the position it found itself in on Tuesday,
noting that it had participated in the making of its plight.
“The problem with Kenya media is that
it refused to enjoy the freedom it was given. It refused to
occupy its own space as enshrined in the constitution, so it
should not complain,” said Professor Herman Manyora, a
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer
in Nairobi, noted that the shutdown of the media showed the
great lengths the government can go to deny people the right to
“The government has for a long time
been warning the media to tore the line or face sanctions.
We are seeing it happen today and the entire country is now
in the dark yet a key event in the country’s history is
happening. Even if deemed bad, the government should have
allowed citizens to know what is happening and deal with any
criminal act in accordance with the law,” said Wandera.
Human Rights activists Ndung’u
Wainaina termed the shutdown “deplorable, repugnant, appalling
and showed how authoritarian Kenyatta’s government was.”
Opinion was, however, divided among
ordinary supporters of Jubilee and the opposition on the media
shutdown. Jubilee adherents welcomed the move noting that
allowing TV stations to air the ceremony amounted to incitement.
“It is the best thing to have happened
to the country on Tuesday because the ceremony would have
had a spiral effect and affected businesses in other parts
of the nation,” said Stephen Kariuki, a businessman.
Moses Omolo, a NASA follower, said
media shutdown amounted to denial of basic human right.
“Information is as key as oxygen and water. The right to
information is enshrined in the constitution and must be
guaranteed. With or without media, we would go on with the
ceremony as planned,” he said.
The current stalemate between the
government and the opposition is expected to prolong Kenya’s
political crisis, which arose after the Aug. 8, 2017 polls.