NAIROBI - In Kenya, independent local broadcasters say the government orchestrated a media blackout Tuesday to prevent live TV coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga swearing himself in as the so-called “people’s president.”
Citizen TV was one of three major stations to go off the air in Kenya Tuesday. Citizen TV had announced that it would be broadcasting live from the site of the opposition’s rival presidential inauguration.
In an interview with VOA, Wachira Waruru, the head of Royal Media Services, which owns Citizen TV and dozens of radio stations in Kenya, said the government was behind the shutdown.
“Officials from Communication Authority accompanied by police officers went to our transmission station in Limuru, and they disabled our transmission. So we have been off air since.”
Officials at the Communication Authority of Kenya declined to comment when reached by VOA.
Also taken off air Tuesday were Nation Television and Kenya Television Network. Both had planned live coverage of Odinga’s swearing-in event.
Waruru said they did not see this coming.
“We were shocked and disappointed because we don’t believe there is anything we have done to warrant a shutdown. So we are very shocked and disappointed that this can happen with no explanation of any kind,” Waruru said.
Citizen TV and the others were able to live stream coverage Tuesday through the internet.
Speaking to the Kenya Television Network, Odinga condemned what he called an attack on the media.
“This is very unfortunate. Indeed it basically confirms that we have descended to the level of Uganda where in the last general elections all TV stations were shut off including also the social media network. We did not expect this will come to our country. It’s very unfortunate indeed, and it must be condemned by all civilized mankind,” Odinga said.