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Media owners reveal how Uhuru lectured them on Raila oath

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The Chairman of the Media Owners Association has revealed how President Uhuru Kenyatta and his team summoned its members for a meeting at State House only to lecture and threaten their media houses if they covered the swearing-in of Raila Odinga.

Hannington Gaya has this evening confirmed that the tone of the meeting, held on Friday last week, was a ‘dressing down’ in which the media was ‘read the riot act.’  The media owners were told their business licences would be revoked if they did not heed the directive.

The brief meeting was attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru and Attorney General Githu Muigai.

Editors have protested the move, saying it does not bode well for freedom of expression and press in the country. “This brazen threat is intended to intimidate the media from performing its rightful role of informing the public on matters affecting them,” says Mr Linus Kaikai, the Chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild.

RELATED: What no-live coverage order by Uhuru means for media

At the meeting, President Kenyatta openely threatened to shut down and revoke the licences of any media house that would broadcast live the planned purported swearing in of NASA leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka on Tuesday. That direct threat has subsequently been echoed, off record by other senior members of government.

“We would like to remind the government to respect the freedom of the media guaranteed in Article 34 of the Constitution and the right of the public to information (Article 35) and desist from outdated methods of repression and to also respect the Bill of Rights,” says Mr Kaikai.

STATEMENT ON DIRECT THREATS BY JUBILEE GOVERNMENT AGAINST THE MEDIA – KENYA EDITORS GUILD.

The Kenya Editors’ Guild is gravely alarmed over a developing trend by the government to gag or threaten the media over coverage of the current political events in the country.

We have just learnt today that on Friday last week, a section of media managers and select editors from the main media houses were quietly summoned to a meeting at the State House, Nairobi, the objectives which were unknown. But the proceedings should be clear cause for alarm to the media and the public.

The brief meeting attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru and AG Githu Muigai did not bode well for the freedom of expression and press in the country.

Kenya Editors Guild chairman, Linus Kaikai.

At the meeting, President Kenyatta expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licences of any media house that would broadcast live the planned purported swearing in of NASA leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka on Tuesday. That direct threat has subsequently been echoed, off record by other senior members of government.

The Guild is appalled by the details of the meeting which was held under an atmosphere of intimidation for the media representatives present. Chairman of the Media Owners Association Hannington Gaya this evening confirmed the tone of the meeting as a ‘dressing down’ in which the media was, quote; ‘read the riot act.’  This brazen threat is intended to intimidate the media from performing its rightful role of informing the public on matters affecting them.

We would like to state it with all the clarity we can that the media is not an actor in the ongoing contest between Jubilee and NASA over the outcome of the last General Election. The Media remains a mere messenger and a chronicler of any events happening in our country. Our country’s vibrant media is made up of competent professionals in journalists and editors that continue to make sound decisions on what constitutes news, in public interest.

READ: Raila acquires presidential flag and sword

Consequently, the Editors Guild condemns and rejects the threats and purported instructions issued at the State House on Friday. We call on all media houses and journalists to carry on their work diligently and to report impartially on all matters of public interest as they have always done. The government should also ensure that journalists are neither harmed nor intimidated as they perform their work on Tuesday and thereafter.

We would like to remind the government to respect the freedom of the media guaranteed in Article 34 of the Constitution and the right of the public to information (Article 35) and desist from outdated methods of repression and to also respect the Bill of Rights.

As the editors and journalists fraternity, we remain committed to professional ethics and credible editorial practices free from undue interference. 

Signed

Linus Kaikai

Chairman, Kenya Editors Guild

READ ALSO: How to deal with very difficult people without causing havoc 

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