Police officers on Monday fired teargas at a crowd protesting the unlawful shutdown of four private television stations in Kenya.
Last week, CitizenTV, InooroTV, KTN and NTV, to the chagrin of the Kenyan government, broadcast the inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga, as the people’s president, but were shutdown by government officials in the process. Raila Odinga had lost two elections to incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta but refused to concede defeat and decided to elect himself the people’s president at an inauguration ceremony.
According to Reuters, protesters numbering about 100 were heading towards government offices to express their grievances when the police began dispelling tear gas on them. This is the latest in the rising tension between the Kenyan government and media houses as both battle for control of press freedom. This, also following arrests of key journalists by “plain clothes” operatives.
On Thursday, the private stations secured a victory with Milimani High Court issuing an order requiring the Communications Authority of Kenya to restore the stations with immediate effect. Despite the order, the broadcast stations remain shut till date.
However, there are speculations that the government may appeal the High Court’s judgement.
The defiance on maintaining the media shutdown signifies the lack of press freedom in the East African country. It also highlights a form of access journalism whereby the government interferes with matters of the press, authenticity of news cannot be verified or questioned as the forth estate begins to bend to its whims and caprices.