Kenyan authorities target media as counter 'inauguration' proceeds

Kenyan authorities target media as counter 'inauguration' proceeds

Police at first had vowed to block opposition supporters from attending Tuesday's ceremony, leading to fears of violence.

In a short speech, lasting less than five minutes, Mr Odinga denounced "election stealing" and the country's "electoral autocracy", but he said little of his future plans.

Mr Odinga and tens of thousands of supporters went ahead with the mock ceremony despite the government warning the event would be treason.

In a statement on Monday, the Kenya Editors Guild said that some journalists were last Friday summoned at State House for unknown reasons.

"A unilateral process of just switching off was not only a violation of media freedom, it was also a violation of fair administrative action, which is expected of any public officers, and runs afoul of Kenya's worldwide and human rights obligations, where Kenya sits as a member of the UN Human Rights Council", said Mr Maina.

Matiang'i said the opposition event was an attempt to subvert and overthrow the legally constituted government, adding they were also investigating the "swearing in".

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As people assembled, authorities forced independent television and radio stations reporting on the gathering off air, several outlets said - the most widespread censorship for a decade.

Although the opposition ceremony was just symbolic, the strong turnout sent a message that the veteran opposition leader commands significant support. Kenyatta was declared the victor of the original August 8, 2017 poll, but his victory was annulled due to electoral malpractices, and the courts ordered a re-run of the election on October 26. Odinga himself dropped out of the race before votes were cast, declaring the election too corrupt to participate in, and left the country for a time.

"Kenyatta's government lacks legitimacy due to the poor turnout in the election re-run, but he has shown limited intent to try to overcome the country's division", said Emma Gordon, Senior Africa Analyst at Verisk Maplecroft. Odinga took his oath to the deafening cheers of supporters before speaking briefly and swiftly departing.

But in Odinga's strongholds, which are mostly composed of his Luo tribe and other allied ethnic groups, there has been enormous frustration with Kenyatta's government. He describes the Uhuru Park event as a "big day" for the nation.

The opposition puts the death toll at more than 300. "We are suffering as Kenyans". "This is Odinga's last realistic chance to win the presidency, so it is hard to see him standing down", said Dr Mike Jennings of SOAS, University of London. "The opposition should use legal means in their quest for electoral justice", he said.

Since independence in 1963, Kenya has been ruled only by leaders from the Kikuyu and Kalenjin groups.

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