The New Yorker:
On Monday, the television reporters at Nation Media, East Africa’s largest independent media company, clustered around their computers and frantically refreshed their Twitter feeds, waiting for permission to finally go back on the air. A government-led media blackout had shut them down, along with several other stations, a week before, raising serious questions about the strength of democracy in Kenya.
The blackout started on January 30th. Kenya’s major television networks—CitizenTV, InooroTV, KTN and NTV, and Nation Media—were pulled off the air to prevent them from covering the opposition Presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s mock inauguration. At the event, Odinga planned to declare himself the “people’s President of the Republic of Kenya,” a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the sitting President, Uhuru Kenyatta. Two of the stations are still dark today, and the government has refused to recognize a court order demanding that they be restored. Instead, Kenyatta has called for a full investigation into the media’s “serious breach of security.”
The signs of deteriorating democracy in Kenya have extended well beyond attacks on the press. On February 2nd, the Nairobi home of the opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna was raided while he slept. Miguna claimed in a statement that he was then “abducted” by the police and kept “in unlawful incommunicado detention for five days under the most horrendous, cruel and inhumane conditions imaginable.” Defying several court orders, Kenyan police declined to produce Miguna, sparking a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #FreeMigunaMigunaNow. On February 6th, the authorities deported Miguna to Canada, where he holds dual citizenship. At least fourteen opposition leaders have had their passports suspended.
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