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How international media reported TV shutdown in Kenya

By Paul Wafula | Published Wed, January 31st 2018 at 08:45, Updated January 31st 2018 at 08:49 GMT +3

The Government shutdown of TV stations for defying a directive not to cover the live swearing-in of Opposition leader Raila Odinga was the biggest story in international media yesterday.

The BBC reported that the Kenyan authorities shut down TV stations to prevent live coverage of a swearing-in event by Raila, who disputed last year’s presidential election results.

The election was annulled following allegations of irregularities.

Uhuru Kenyatta won a repeat election in October, but Raila did not take part.

Uhuru was sworn in for a second term last November.

The President is reported to have warned the media not to cover the event and the Attorney General said holding such a ceremony amounted to treason.

Speaking to KTN, Raila said the media ban “confirms we have descended to the level of Uganda”, which stopped media coverage during elections in 2016.

Three privately owned television stations - NTV, KTN and Citizen TV - went off air from around 9am.

Citizen TV told the BBC the Government authorities had forced them off the air because of the station’s plans to cover the gathering.

KTN viewers watched their screens fade to black as the news presenter read a statement confirming that the Communications Authority of Kenya was switching off transmission.

But all three broadcasters provided live coverage online, on YouTube and social media.

Al Jazeera reported that the TV networks were gagged ahead of Raila’s “inauguration”.

It reported that authorities took the independent broadcasters off air over plans to cover the ceremony.

The AFP reported that Raila’s supporters gathered in Nairobi ahead of a ceremony to swear him in as an alternative president, while the Government cracked down on the media.

The international news agency reported that the planned “inauguration” three months after an election Raila claimed was stolen from him had sparked fears of violence. However, police did not block the thousands of supporters from gathering at the Uhuru Park venue.

“The Government has come under fire after the Editors Guild revealed media managers had been summoned by President Kenyatta and warned not to broadcast the event live,” AFP reported.

Reuters, a wire agency, reported that authorities shut down private TV and radio stations as Raila’s supporters gathered in a Nairobi park where he was due to take the presidential oath in an act of protest.

The agency reported Raila’s supporters insist that he, not Uhuru, is Kenya’s legitimate leader.