Kenyan broadcasters back on air after government block

Two Kenyan television stations have resumed broadcasting after being taken off air for plans to show a rally held by the country’s opposition leader.

The NTV and KTN channels were both accessible on Monday, but two others – Citizen TV and Inooro TV – remained blocked, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported on Monday.

Earlier in the day, protesters took to the streets in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to condemn the media shutdown, it said.

READ MORE: Rights groups decry Kenya’s television shutdown

The government suspended all four stations on January 30 after they announced plans to air the symbolic “swearing in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga, which took place later the same day.


Broadcasting the mock ceremony – at which Odinga declared himself the “people’s president” – would threaten national security, the government said.

READ MORE: Kenya inaugurates another crisis

It also described the event as a “well-choreographed attempt to subvert or overthrow” incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The move prompted international condemnation, with the UN later criticising Kenyan officials for failing to comply with a ruling by the country’s High Court to lift the block on the channels.

On February 1, the court ordered a 14-day suspension of the government’s shutdown to allow for a legal challenge to be heard.

Journalists and human rights groups have condemned the shutdown as an attack on freedom of the press.

READ MORE: ‘Alarming’ media crackdown leaves Kenyan broadcasters off air

“The government allowed the event to take place,” Linus Kaikai, managing editor of Kenya’s Nation Media Group, told Al Jazeera last week.

“I didn’t understand the minister’s rationale on why they allowed the event, but cannot allow coverage.”

Odinga’s event took place three months after he boycotted a presidential election rerun, claiming the government planned to rig the vote.

Kenyatta won a second five-year term in office during the rerun, and he was sworn in as the country’s leader in a ceremony last November.

An earlier ballot for the presidency, in August of last year, was annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court on account of “irregularities and illegalities” by the electoral commission. — Al Jazeera

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