22 April 2018

Kenya: State Only Shutdown TV Stations for a Day - Kenyatta

January's shutdown of local TV stations lasted at least a week, but President Uhuru Kenyatta has told the world that it was only for a day.

During an interview with CNN that aired on Friday, Mr Kenyatta said it was only on January 30, the day of ODM leader Raila Odinga's mock swearing in, that stations were shut.

"They were shutdown on a single day when Raila Odinga went and purported to swear himself in as president of the Republic of Kenya," he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"That was the only day. You can do your homework and check: the only day that they were shutdown," he added.

But the fact is that after the January 30 shutdown of transmission systems, signals for NTV and KTN News were allowed on air on February 5 while those for Citizen TV and Inooro TV were restored on February 8.

LIVE COVERAGE

Mr Kenyatta made the remarks as Ms Amanpour questioned the legality of a number of government actions around last year's General Election.

The president insisted that the shutdown was the doing of the TV stations because they had earlier promised not to air the event.

"Them agreeing, [and] proceeding to air, and we said on that basis, those who do air that particular programme will be shutdown in accordance with our law and we proceeded to do exactly that for that one single occasion," the president said.

The interview touched on a wide range of issues, among them the relations between the United States and African countries.

Mr Kenyatta termed "troubling" a move by the US and other Western powers to focus more on themselves than countries they trade with.

"We see today a growing tendency towards isolationism, moving away from globalisation, which has enabled many countries in the West to reach the levels of development that they have and now constraining it when it comes to the African continent," he said.

ISOLATIONIn the same vein, Mr Kenyatta also called against the erection of walls like US president Donald Trump has vowed to put up one on its border with Mexico.

"The way is not just to put up a big wall and shut people out," he said.

"We live in Kenya, as you know, on a very troublesome border with Somalia. But yet, at the same time, we acknowledge that we can't just wake up one morning and close the border because these are real people," he added.

Kenya had begun building a wall on its border with Somalia but stopped earlier this year.

VIOLENCE

Mandera Governor Ali Roba said in March that Mr Kenyatta was due to meet with his Somali counterpart Mohamed Farmajo to agree on a number of issues.

During the CNN interview, Kenya's political situation was also a talking point.

Ms Amanpour asked Mr Kenyatta if he would offer an apology to Kenyans whose relatives lost lives during election-related violence last year.

"As a parent myself, I feel for them, I sympathise with them and I give them my assurance that I will do everything in my power to ensure that this thing never happens again and make available all channels to ensure that anybody who lost life or property is availed a channel to get justice," he said.

TRUCE

The host also touched on the recent handshake between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga. The president said the move was proof of his commitment to dialogue.

"We acknowledged that there is an opposition and I said it very clearly that I have no problem reaching out to find my bipartisan solutions to the issues that affect us; to the problems that Kenyans have," he said.

They also discussed the matter of rights for gays and lesbians in Kenya, which Mr Kenyatta said it is not yet a pressing issue for Kenyans.

"I will not engage in a subject that is not of any nature important to the people under the Republic of Kenya," he said.

"In years to come, possibly long after I'm president, who knows? Maybe our society will have reached a stage where those are issues that people are willing to freely and openly discuss."

Kenya

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