NAIROBI – Kenya’s government allowed on Monday two of four private television networks to resume broadcasting following a state-imposed shutdown that lasted for seven consecutive days, the two networks reported.
The government cut transmissions at the four networks and their affiliated radio stations on Jan. 30, after they broadcast coverage of the unsanctioned “inauguration” ceremony of opposition leader Raila Odinga, in which he proclaimed himself the “people’s president.”
“Government switches NTV and KTN News back on after seven days Citizen TV remains shut,” NTV Kenya said on its Twitter.
Earlier on Monday, Kenyan police fired tear gas to disperse activists protesting against both the government’s closure of the television stations and the arrest of opposition members.
The peaceful demonstrations in front of the office of the Interior Minister, which had been called for by human rights groups, were broken up as they marched toward government offices in Nairobi’s central business district.
Activists held signs calling for the “Right to Broadcast, Right to Record, #mediafreedom” as the government continued to defy an order from Kenya’s Supreme Court to allow the stations to return to the air.
Demonstrators also protested the arrest of several members of the National Super Alliance (NASA), the coalition led by Odinga, for having participated in the swearing-in ceremony.
One of those arrested, the lawyer who administrated Odinga’s “oath of office,” Miguna Miguna, had yet to be freed on bail, despite the fact that the Supreme Court ordered his release on Friday, the day of his arrest.
Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i had previously stated that the TV shutdown would remain until the coverage of the ceremony was investigated, deeming it a “serious breach of security.”
However, the Supreme Court ordered the networks to be reopened until the case presented by activist Okiya Omtatah against the shutdown is heard in court on Feb. 14.
The Supreme Court had initially overturned the result of the Aug. 8 election, which saw Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected as president, due to apparent “irregularities and illegalities.”
The re-run election in October 2017 was then boycotted by the opposition party NASA and its leader Odinga, who refused to recognize Kenyatta as the legitimate president, claiming adequate steps had not been taken to ensure the vote was free and fair.
Due to NASA’s sitting out the re-run election, Kenyatta won 98 percent of the vote.