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Communication Authority switched off three television studios on government orders

By The Standard | Published Mon, February 5th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 4th 2018 at 18:27 GMT +3
Miguna Miguna,Opposition leader Raila Odinga and Lawyer James Orengo after swearing in of Raila

The swearing in of Raila Odinga as the ‘people’s president’ by opposition supporters at Uhuru Park on January28, 2018 appears to have brought out the worst in the government. Following that event, the reaction from the government has been swift.

The Communication Authority switched off three television studios on government orders, ostensibly because the media houses were abetting a crime that was a threat to national security. Thereafter, there have been arrests of opposition leaders perceived to have played a key role in the swearing in of Raila.

Not content with the arrests, the government has gone a step further to withdraw firearm licences issued to some of the most vocal opposition leaders. While it is the prerogative of the government to issue and withdraw firearm licences, the timing is suspect. If miscreants took advantage of the prevailing circumstances and anything happened to any of the opposition leaders, government will be hard pressed to exonerate itself.

In addition to the imposed media blackout and arrests, plans are underway to withdraw the passports of key opposition leaders. This reflects negatively on a government that swore to uphold the rule of law. Arbitrary arrests and withdrawal of passports to restrict the individual’s right to movement and association infringe on the constitution, as much as the media blackout infringes on media freedom and the citizens right to access information.

More worrying, however, is a situation where the government blatantly breaks the law and disregards court orders. To date, KTN, NTV and CITIZEN television stations are still off air despite a court order issued Thursday last week that they be restored.

The custodians of the law- the police- have been instrumental in frustrating efforts to serve the court order on relevant officials. The court also ordered the release of Miguna Miguna Friday last week, pending the hearing of his case, but rather than accede to the court order, Miguna is still under police custody; being moved from one police station to another as claimed by the opposition.

As often said, two wrongs do not make a right. It has been the position of this paper that we cannot have two presidents at the same time. Uhuru was sworn in at Kasarani on November 28, 2017 as the country’s president following the Supreme Court’s upholding of his October 26, 2017 win that was contested in court. Clearly therefore, the oppositions action contravenes the constitution. The government, on the other hand, should demonstrate its respect of the rule of law by restoring the TV stations and releasing Miguna in accordance with the court orders

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