US, African Union Condemn Raila Odinga’s ‘swearing-in’ as Kenya’s People’s President
The United States and the African Union (AU) have criticised Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s ‘swearing-in’ as people’s president on January 30. In a press statement dated January 1, the US termed Raila’s inauguration as unconstitutional since President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election in October last year was upheld by the Supreme Court of Kenya.
“We reject actions that undermine Kenya’s Constitution and the rule of law. Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as President of the Republic of Kenya on October 26, 2017 in a poll that was upheld by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Grievances must be resolved through appropriate legal mechanisms,” reads part of the statement. The President Donald Trump-led government also commended the restraint shown by Kenyan security forces during the oath ceremony and urged them to continue to refrain from any unnecessary or excessive use of force.
The US also condemned the move by Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to shut down media houses following their ‘defiance’ to follow an alleged order from President Uhuru restricting the live coverage of the controversial event. Trump’s administration further asked the Kenyan Government to respect freedom of expression that is enshrined in the Constitution.
“We are also deeply concerned by the Government’s action to shut down, intimidate, and restrict the media. Freedom of expression, including for members of the media, is essential to democracy and is enshrined in Kenya’s Constitution. We urge the Government and all Kenyans to respect freedom of expression and implement court orders calling for the restoration of television broadcasts,” reads the statement by US Department Spokesperson, Heather Nauert.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i maintained that the switch-off of the media houses (KTN News, NTV, Citizen TV, Inooro TV and Radio Citizen) would remain in place until investigations into NASA’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) activities had been concluded. “Media owners and all relevant actors had been given a full security situation brief well ahead of the illegal activities of NASA. Unfortunately, some media houses chose to disregard this advice, their own code of ethics, self- regulations and moral responsibility to every Kenyan to safeguard security of their fellow citizens,”
The CS stated at Harambee House. The former Education CS further noted that coverage by the media would have led to incitement and a ‘massacre of catastrophic proportions’ was going to happen.
“The Government’s responsibility is to protect the lives of people. We are committed to the rule of law,” Matiang’i said. The High Court, however, on Thursday suspended the Government’s directive to shut down the three leading TV stations in the country pending a full hearing of the case that was filed by Activist Okiya Omtatah on Thursday. Judge Chacha Mwita ordered the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to restore live transmission for the stations. He also barred the State from interfering with the signals of the various TV stations. CA has, however, not responded to the High Court’s order. The African Union (AU) also raised concerns over the swearing-in of the National Super Alliance leader, Raila. According to the Chairperson of the Commission, an African Union Election Observer Mission led by former President Thabo Mbeki urged all stakeholders to act in strict compliance with the Constitution of Kenya and other relevant texts.
“An African Union Election Observer Mission observed the elections whose results were validated by the Kenyan Constitutional Court. Against this backdrop, and in line with its relevant instruments, notably the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the African Union rejects all actions that undermine constitutional order and the rule of law. The Chairperson urges all concerned to desist from any such actions, which also put the political stability of Kenya at risk,” the Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahama, said in a statement.
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