Kenya police fire teargas at demonstrators demanding TV stations reopen

The government has ignored a court order issued on Thursday that the stations be allowed to reopen. They were shut on Tuesday when trying to broadcast live footage of Raila Odinga’s presidential inauguration.

Civil rights activists run to escape teargas as a canister goes-off on the ground during a demonstration on 5 February, 2018 in the streets of Nairobi. Picture: AFP

NAIROBI - Kenya police fired teargas on Monday to disperse a crowd of more than 100 demonstrators demanding that the government reopen three private television channels it shut down last week over their coverage of the opposition.

The activists were trying to march to government offices in central Nairobi when police fired the gas, a Reuters witness said.

The government has ignored a court order issued on Thursday that the stations be allowed to reopen. They were shut on Tuesday when trying to broadcast live footage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s symbolic presidential inauguration.

Odinga claims he, not President Uhuru Kenyatta, is the real winner of a presidential election held in August but later nullified by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds.

Kenyatta won the August election and won the repeat election in October as well after Odinga boycotted it, complaining it would not be fair.

Odinga’s opposition alliance has not yet produced credible evidence to show he won the election or outlined his next plans. He failed to show up at a rally on Sunday, leaving his allies to explain they would outline their plan next week.

In addition to shutting down the television stations, the government briefly detained three opposition politicians who took part in Odinga’s symbolic swearing-in ceremony this week. The media shutdown prompted vocal criticism from the United Nations, the United States and former colonial ruler Britain.