Private TV stations shut down in Kenya to prevent coverage of Opposition swearing-in

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Kenyan government on Tuesday shut down some private TV stations to prevent live coverage of a swearing-in event by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted last year’s disputed presidential election.

Three privately owned television stations – NTV, KTN and Citizen TV – went off air from around 09:10 (06:10 GMT).

Citizen TV said the government authorities had forced them off the air over plans to cover the gathering.

KTN viewers watched their screens fade to black as the news presenter read a statement confirming that the national communications authority was switching off transmission.

However, the main TV stations streamed the event on their websites and on YouTube and Facebook.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga declared himself the “people’s president” in front of thousands of his supporters in the capital, Nairobi.

Uhuru Kenyatta won a re-run in October, but Mr Odinga did not take part. He was officially re-elected with 98% of the vote on 26 October but just under 39% of voters turned out. He was inaugurated in November for a second term.

When the repeat vote was called, Mr Odinga urged his supporters to shun it because he said no reforms had been made to the electoral commission.

His victory is not recognised by Mr Odinga, who argues he was elected by a small section of the country.

Uhuru warned the media not to cover Tuesday’s event and the attorney general said holding such a ceremony amounted to treason.

Holding a bible in his right hand at a park in Nairobi, Mr Odinga declared that he was answering to a “high[er] calling to assume the office of the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya”.

His “swearing-in” was intended to “show the world that what we are doing is legal, constitutional and not something you can remotely describe as a coup”, Odinga said.

Police initially cordoned off the park, but then withdrew.

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