Kenya’s leading television channel, Citizen TV and its affiliate outlets, Citizen Radio and Inooro TV mysteriously went off air Tuesday morning at around 9:20 am during a live broadcast of developments at the Uhuru park grounds in Nairobi, where the controversial swearing in of former Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga is slated to take place.
According to the Citizen TV website, the switch off was effected by the Communications Authority of Kenya “over the coverage of the NASA ‘swearing-in’ plan”.
Kenyans took to social media and linked the shutdown to government following the alleged threats by President Uhuru Kenyatta to revoke licences of media houses that will relay the event live.
The Kenya Editors Guild condemned shutdown threats saying that the media is not biased in its coverage.
“We have just learnt that last week, a section of media managers and select editors from the main media houses were quietly summoned to a meeting at the State House, Nairobi for brief meeting attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru and AG Githu Muigai where President Kenyatta expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licences of any media house that would broadcast live NASA’ event”, Mr Kaikai, the Chairperson of Kenya’s editors guild said in a statement.
He added that “the threats don’t bode well for the freedom of expression and press in the country.”
NASA leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka are expected to take oath today Tuesday January 30 as ‘President’ and ‘Deputy president’ respectively amidst illegality claims by government.
It is however not clear whether Citizen TV’s being off air is as a result of defying government directives not to relay Mr. Odinga’s swearing in or, simply a station’s technical fault.
But Royal Media Services Managing Director, Wachira Waruru said that the Management was “actively engaging government to establish the reason for switching off Citizen TV and Inooro TV”.
Citizen TV resorted to covering Tuesday’s opposition events through its social media platforms.
Odinga lost the presidential elections in August 2017 to Uhuru Kenyatta which was annulled by supreme court on grounds of being marred with irregularities and illegalities, but refused to participate repeat election held in October 2017 demanding changes in Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).