Three Kenyan television stations will remain off air indefinitely as the government investigates their respective roles in the symbolic “swearing in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga.
According to a statement from the interior minister on Wednesday, privately-owned Citizen TV and Radio, KTN and NTV had their signals switched off on Tuesday after defying a government order and going ahead with a live coverage of an event that was banned.
NTV Kenya reported via their Twitter handle that plain clothes officers were outside their premises ostensibly waiting to effect the arrest of top officials.
“As a result of what happened yesterday we have commenced a wide scale investigation targeting individuals and organisations who include but may not be limited to certain media houses. We will act decisively but strictly according to the law,” Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary in charge of security said at a press briefing.
He also accused some elements in the media of facilitating the “illegal act”, putting lives of thousands of Kenyans at risk.
“We long lost the days of threatening action, we will act. The individuals who are in this and the organisations involved in this, wherever they are within the borders of this country, will feel it and they will be so sorry they tried,” he stressed.
Kenya’s media council have asked the government to restore the broadcasting signals while media rights groups have slammed the move as one that does not bode well for the country.
Odinga, a former Prime Minister and leader of the main opposition bloc, NASA, on Tuesday took an oath of office as the People’s president. Odinga says he won elections held in August 2017 but was denied victory due to electoral fraud.
NASA secured a September 1, 2017 cancellation of the results as the Supreme Court ordered a vote rerun. They boycotted the October 26 process stressing that the necessary reforms had not taken place.
The vote, however, took place with incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta winning by a landslide. He took office in December last year following which NASA also said they will hold a parallel swearing in.