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Media shutdown as Kenyans await Odinga 'swearing in'

Media shutdown as Kenyans await Odinga 'swearing in'

Kenya

Independently-owned Citizen Television and Radio stations said on Tuesday that government authorities forced them off the air over plans to cover a gathering in the capital where opposition leader Raila Odinga plans to swear himself in as president.

“The Communications Authority of Kenya has switched off Citizen Television and Radio in most parts of the country over the coverage of the NASA ‘swearing-in’ plan,” the Citizen website said, referring to the opposition NASA alliance.

NASA boycotted the October 26 repeat election ordered by the Supreme Court and have instead opted to swear in their presidential candidates based on the August 8 poll which they claim to have won.

The Communications Authority of Kenya has switched off Citizen Television and Radio in most parts of the country over the coverage of the NASA ‘swearing-in’ plan.

Uhuru Kenyatta had been declared the winner of the August poll, and also went ahead to win the repeat election, polling over 98% of the votes cast.

Kenyatta was sworn in in November last year, but NASA has refused to recognise the legitimacy of his government and vowed to run a parallel government.

The swearing in ceremony which the government warned against is slated to happen today, and before the shutdown, the media reported that hundreds of NASA’s supporters trooped to Uhuru Park in the capital, Nairobi, the venue of the inauguration.

Kenyans have taken to social media to vent their frustrations over the media shutdown which they describe as yet another ‘unconstitutional’ move by Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.

Though the police had said they would prohibit any illegal assemblies on Tuesday, there were no uniformed police in the park and no anti-riot officers or vehicles.

Local radio station Capital FM reported that supporters had been granted permission by Kenyan authorities to use the park. Police and government spokesman were not immediately reachable for comment on that report.

Opposition supporters claim Odinga won the August vote.

‘‘The swearing in that will happen today is legitimate based on the August 8 election. Odinga is the one we recognise as the president and that is why we are swearing him in,” said hairdresser Benta Akinyi, 32, standing near other opposition supporters blowing horns and whistles.

Many have resorted to live streaming the proceedings using social media platforms and tools, even as fear of an internet shutdown grows.

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