Three Kenyan television stations will remain off air until the government has completed investigations into the “swearing in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga, the interior minister said on Wednesday.
“As a result of what happened yesterday, we have commenced investigations targeting individuals,” Fred Matiang‘i told a news conference. “Media houses will remain closed until we complete investigations.”
Authorities suspended television and radio stations on Tuesday as supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga watched him take a symbolic presidential oath in a Nairobi park in a direct challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Security forces made no move to stop the ceremony, which authorities had said would be illegal, but the government later declared the opposition “National Resistance Movement” a criminal group, paving the way for potential arrests.
The movement is a loose grouping led by Odinga and other lawmakers that tried to rally support in November for a boycott of some products whose owners it says are aligned with government interests.
Odinga’s supporters say he is Kenya’s legitimate leader and Kenyatta’s election was neither free nor fair.
Kenyatta’s victory in August was annulled by the Supreme Court over irregularities but he won a re-run, which Odinga boycotted because some electoral commission reforms he demanded did not take place.
Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term in November and state institutions report to him.
“I, Raila Omolo Odinga, do swear that I will protect the nation as people’s president, so help me God,” Odinga, who held a bible, said to the cheers of more than 15,000 people in Uhuru Park, next to Nairobi’s main business district.
During a speech lasting less than five minutes, Odinga declined to give details of his plans and said they would be disclosed in “due course”.
In a possible sign of division within the opposition alliance, Odinga’s vice presidential candidate and two other senior leaders were absent.
Odinga said the vice president would be sworn in at a later date.
The attorney-general had warned that Odinga could be charged with treason if the event went ahead – an offence that can carry the death penalty.
“The UN is watching developments in Kenya closely and it was “critical for the media to be able to operate freely and to report freely,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
He said the UN has urged “that all Kenyan parties, political actors and their supporters maintain a lawful and peaceful social and political environment.”