17 July 2017

Kenya May Shut Off Social Media During August Elections

Photo: Jared Nyataya/Nation
Members of the public during a peace walk in Eldoret town, flagged off by Ainabkoi Deputy County Commissioner Nobert Komora, who called on youths not to be used to cause chaos during the electioneering period.

Nairobi — The government may consider shutting off social media during the August 8 General Election in the event it threatens the country's peace and stability.

The Chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission Francis Ole Kaparo on Monday said they are already working with the Communications Authority to identify possible threats posed by social media platforms, besides cracking down on irresponsible users.

"Last week, you guys asked me, are you contemplating shutting down some of these social media, my answer was and continues to be if it is necessary, they will be shut out if it is necessary. So that is my stand and I believe that is what ought to be," Kaparo told a forum on election preparedness, bringing together police chefs, judiciary officials, the NCIC and the Communication Authority."

The move is aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2007 post election violence which was largely blamed on incitement-including on social media. More than 1,100 people were killed and more than 600,000 others displaced mainly in Rift Valley, Nyanza, Nairobi and parts of Central Province.

Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Francis Wangusi has however, assured that the internet will not be closed, but urged users to be responsible at all times.

"You cannot hide anywhere even on social media, without us physically tracing where you are, so we have that capability and we are not unfortunately thinking of doing what people have been going around saying that we shall shut off the internet. We are unlikely to do that and we are going to make sure that the internet is up and running for Kenyans to exercise information but don't misuse it as a platform to convey your own results," he said.

Interior acting Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi too assured that the ministry has prepared a national security plan to aid security forces in providing security before, during and after the General Election.

"We are ready. This is a plan that has been going on for the last over one year led by my late colleague Joseph Nkaissery since June developing a security plan to ensure the IEBC delivers a free, fair and credible elections," he said.

Matiangi was named acting Interior Minister soon after Joseph Nkaissery's death and has vowed that he will do everything it takes to secure the country to avoid a repeat of the 2007 post election violence which left more than 1000 people dead and thousands more displaced.

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