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US slams Uhuru government over TV stitch off

The United States has warned the Kenyan government against muzzling the media.

The US State Department, in a statement released on Thursday, accused the Jubilee administration of intimidating and restricting the media.

“We are also deeply concerned by the Government’s action to shut down, intimidate, and restrict the media,” the statement by Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, read in part.

“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.”

On Tuesday, the government switched off four independently owned TV stations –NTV, KTN News, Citizen TV and Inooro TV for covering live the ‘swearing-in’ of Nasa leader Raila Odinga.

On Wednesday, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i announced that the stations would remain off air as the government conducts investigations into the events surrounding the ‘swearing in’.

However, the High Court on Thursday ordered the State to switch on the stations.

The judge also barred the government from interfering with all television programmes, until the case is heard on February 14.

The order was yet to be effected by press time at 8am on Friday.

The US also urged a national dialogue on the political stand-off in the country.

“We again urge Kenyan leaders and citizens to begin a national conversation to build cohesion and address long-standing issues,” said Nauert.

“The United States continues to support efforts by religious, business, and civil society leaders to begin this conversation in the near future and calls on everyone to participate in this endeavor. The United States stands firmly with the people of Kenya; it is only Kenyans who can find a way to resolve their differences and chart the destiny of this great country.”