Kenya police tear gas protesters over close of 4 TV stations

Kenyan civil rights groups protested on the streets of Nairobi holding placards against the government closure of the three main TV stations

Two Kenyan television channels shut down by the government over their coverage of the political opposition resumed partial broadcasting on Monday although a third channel remained off the air. When private citizen Okiya Omtatah took the government to the high court over the shutdown, the court demanded the stations be put back on air, pending a hearing on February 14.

Kenyan police on Tuesday charged a politician over witnessing the mock inauguration last week of opposition leader Raila Odinga, an event the government considers treason, while the passports of more than a dozen opposition leaders were suspended.

Worldwide media stations from around the globe on Monday highlighted the government's defiance to keep the stations off-air, despite a court order to restore broadcast.

The media shutdown prompted vocal criticism from the United Nations, U.S. and former colonial ruler Britain.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said government's refusal to abide by court orders was contempt for the rule of law and a brazen example of censorship.

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It was unclear why the government switched back on the transmitters. Odinga charges that President Uhuru Kenyatta's won election a year ago through fraud.

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

Since the symbolic inauguration, Odinga and his supporters have repeatedly promised to outline their next step, only to postpone the unveiling of their plan. An opposition lawmaker who stood beside Odinga and wore judicial robe was arrested Wednesday and taken to court, where police fired tear gas at his supporters.

Around 100 people were killed during the protracted election season, majority Odinga supporters shot by the police. He was granted bail of 50,000 Kenyan shillings ($500) but has remained in police custody with his whereabouts unknown until he appeared in court in Kajiado County, neighbouring Nairobi, on Tuesday to hear the charges.

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