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Kenya Bans Live Media Broadcasts


A cross section of Kenyans have described as “banana republic” a government directive banning all media houses from broadcasting live news of the outcome of last Thursday’s elections. This comes after the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was sworn in for his second term in office after the electoral commission declared him winner of last Thursday’s elections. But leading opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement has rejected the results of the elections. European Union election observers have reportedly questioned the credibility of the election results.

Meanwhile a state of emergency has been imposed on some parts of the country as fighting escalates. Joseph Magoott is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey the elections outcome is a sad day in the life of Kenya’s young democracy.

“There has been an order directing all media outlets not to broadcast live materials from their stations. Remember, the ODM’s Raila Odinga was scheduled to make a statement to challenge the electoral result. And I think one of the media houses begun a broadcast, but all of a sudden it was switched off and that I think is retrogressive to essentially kill the democratic rights and again is a breach against the freedom of expression. Given that this is the very government that raised the standards and the KTN group,” Magoott noted.

He said the media ban undermines the government’s commitment to freedom of expression.

“This action evokes bad memories that this government is not committed to freedom of the media. Remember, that even the announcement of the results were done by the state media, recorded in the state house and the recorded materials were taken to the rest of the media houses,” he said.

Magoott said some Kenyans are shocked about the outcome of Thursday’s elections.

“Kenyans cannot really believe (what happened) remember it was like the rest of Kenya versus one region given the fact that this is a government that really favored one region in terms of the forming of the government and appointments in public services, and so it was a government by one tribe. And so it is shocking that this government managed to come to office. But there have been reports of the fact that this government had planned and executed rigging and cheated in the election. These are legitimate grounds that the ODM team had raised, and the announcement made by Kivuitu (electoral commissioner) were not reflective of the results of the districts, and so there was some cooking so to speak along the way. So Kenyans have not received the news well,” Magoott pointed out.

He said there could be several legal options that the aggrieved presidential candidates could seek redress.

“One would really understand the position of the ODM leader. He knows that cheating has taken place and he has tried to raise his position with the electoral commission… he is going to seek a legal and constitutional redress in court. But you know our judicial system has been a big let down so that elections petitions takes as far as five years for a verdict to be made. But remember five years is the time for parliamentary and presidential terms expires. Another constitutional means would be to wait till parliament is sworn in then they are going to attempt to pass a vote of no confidence against the president,” he opined.

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