Cord’s Okoa Kenya secretariat has called off the launch of their referendum draft Bill planned for Wednesday over the countrywide television blackout.
Cord leader Raila Odinga said the media shutdown, with only K24 and the State-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation being on air, was an indication the ruling class was determined to roll back all the democratic gains made by Kenyans since independence.
“Cord is a stakeholder in this process. We regret that this important event has to be postponed because of the digital migration standoff,” Mr Odinga said.
He accused the government of not playing its role in arbitrating the matter.
Mr Odinga claimed there were senior State officials with massive investment interests in the disputed issue who were enjoying the standoff. He, however, did not name them.
Said Mr Odinga: “All of us would like to see digital migration. We want all stakeholders on board. We feel the government is not acting as a proper arbitrator (and) some players appeared to be favoured by the state in the whole issue.”
The former prime minister said that the media were being unfairly treated in the matter and called for a sober approach in dealing with the entire problem.
Mr Odinga also faulted the Judiciary, accusing it of being unfair in making certain rulings touching on the dispute.
“The manner in which the Judiciary has been conducting this matter and a look at some of the rulings made leave a lot to be desired,” Mr Odinga stated, adding that he had a right to voice his opinion on rulings already made by various courts.
He was speaking at his Capitol Hill office, where he addressed reporters with Okoa Kenya initiative chairman Paul Mwangi and a member of its Committee of Experts, Beatrice Kituyi.
The Okoa Kenya team had invited several dignitaries and members of the public to attend Wednesday’s event, which was meant to take the quest for a referendum to the next level.
Mr Mwangi said that the launch was planned with the belief that there would be total citizen participation, including the media, at the launch.
“The above invitations were issued in the belief that the current stalemate between the Jubilee government and NTV, KTN, Citizen TV and QTV regarding migration of television broadcasting from analogue to digital (transmission) would be resolved by the date of the intended event,” said Mr Mwangi.
In a statement, Mr Mwangi said that after observing the developments on this issue it became clear that the dispute between the government and the affected media houses would not be addressed in time for the event.
“We have therefore had to evaluate whether it is feasible to hold such an event without the participation of the news organisations that carry 90 per cent of the country’s television content. We have come to the conclusion that it is not,” said the Okoa Kenya boss.
He further said that Okoa Kenya feels there can be no amendment to the Constitution without the people and that there can be no people without the media.
“It’s harassment and punishing of local businesses because government officials are themselves competing for the same business they are supposed to be regulating the other players on,” he stated.