The Government of Kenya will apply all means possible, including shutting down the internet and social media platforms, to ensure peace prevails during the election period.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru says the government reserves the right to take any necessary measures to ensure public order. He said his ministry is working closely with that of Interior in assessing any possible threats to peace and order so they can counter them.
He said the intention of the government is not curtailing peoples’ freedom of expression, and cautioned citizens to avoid publishing inflammatory material. “The government has no intention of shutting down the internet during the August 8 General elections,” he said.
But going by the rising political temperatures and the heated exchanges on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, which border on incitement and ethnic profiling, the government may have device very punitive deterrent means to have some Kenyans to tone down. Otherwise, an internet shut down will be inevitable.
Governments in Africa have lately resorted to shutting down mobil internet and social media platforms to reduce spread of hate messages. Uganda and Ghana last year shut down the internet and social platforms like Facebook and Twitter during its elections. Ethiopia too controls access to social media to crackdown on political hate-speech.
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Mr Mucheru says so far there are no indications that Kenyan elections would be held in an atmosphere that would warrant such an extreme measure, but was quick to add that Kenyans should use social media responsibly.
Mr Mucheru was speaking during a tour of Nyeri County on Thursday, where he assessed progress made in the implementation of the Digital Literacy Programme. He said the last school in the county will be connected to the program by this Friday.