Kenyan journalists held at protest over media Bill

Kenya police on Monday arrested four journalists protesting against a controversial media Bill, but Prime Minister Raila Odinga said he would hold talks with the president over the draft law.

Police fired tear gas and pepper spray at about 50 protesters marching to Parliament to denounce the Bill passed last week and which has sparked criticism from media owners and rights groups.

“Freedom of the press. Our right” and “We don’t want the Bill to signed,” chanted the group wearing black T-shirts, an Agence France-Presse photographer reported.

The Bill will become law when President Mwai Kibaki signs it.

Odinga’s party, which formed a unity government with Kibaki’s party earlier this year, has threatened court action if the president assents to the Bill.

“We were hoping to have consultations before the Bill was presented to Parliament. Unfortunately that did not happen,” Odinga told reporters after meeting media owners on Monday.

“But I will present the petition to the president and we will then communicate the final results of the discussion.

“I want to reiterate the government’s commitment to the protection of the freedom of the press,” he added.

On Sunday, police freed dozens of people arrested during the country’s independence day celebrations on Friday while protesting the media Bill and demanding that lawmakers’ allowances be taxed.—AFP

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