NAIROBI – The Supreme Court of Kenya suspended on Thursday a shutdown of TV broadcasters ordered by the government after several channels covered the recent non-sanctioned ceremony of the opposition leader proclaiming himself to be the people’s president.
The highest judicial body in the country ordered the immediate re-establishment of the signals for the NTV, Citizen TV, KTN News and Inooro channels, as well as their affiliated radios, which could only be viewed live online since Tuesday morning.
Activist Okiya Omtatah filed the case with the Supreme Court on Thursday morning, asking the court to prohibit the government from interfering with the signal of the networks in the future.
Supreme Court judge Chacha Mwita declared the case urgent – to be heard in court on Feb. 14 – and suspended the shutdown until the hearing.
In his case, Omtatah sued Information Minister Joseph Mucheru, along with Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i.
Matiang’i issued a statement Wednesday stating that the TV shutdown would remain until the coverage of the ceremony, which he described as a “serious breach of security” was investigated.
Journalists and members of the civil society on Wednesday demanded the immediate reconnection of all TV broadcasts that were shut down and stated that the government has shown an intention to delegitimize and criminalize the media sector.
They also criticized the government for threatening journalists and officials of these networks with possible arrest.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday proclaimed himself to be the people’s president at a non-sanctioned swearing-in ceremony that brought together tens of thousands of his supporters, prompting the government to shut down TV broadcasts and issue warnings of high treason.
The National Super Alliance (NASA) frontman Odinga has refused to recognize his rival Uhuru Kenyatta, as the legitimate president of Kenya ever since the latter rushed to victory with 98 percent of the vote in the controversial October 2017 election re-off which, boycotted by the opposition, had been organized by the Supreme Court after the court found irregularities in the original vote two months prior.