Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki told a gathering of international reporters that the government will summon journalists who publish stories that have a polarizing effect. He did not say what action would then be taken.
Kariuki told the journalists: â€œWe will set you on fire before you set us on fire.â€ He said the media and pollsters were the catalysts of violence that rocked Kenya following a disputed presidential vote five years ago.
Tom Rhodes of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Kariukiâ€™s threat to set journalists on fire and his accusations that the foreign press instigated some of Kenyaâ€™s postelection violence was â€œutterly reprehensible and unbecoming of a government spokesman.â€
â€œThe government spokesmen should refrain from empty accusations and explain specifically how the foreign press was responsible for inciting the postelection violence and respect Kenyaâ€™s constitution that provides ample provisions for press freedom,â€ Rhodes said.
More than 1,000 people died and 600,000 were driven from their homes following the December 2007 vote. The government is seeking to prevent a repeat of violence during this yearâ€™s election.
Meanwhile, the top two contenders for Kenyaâ€™s presidency were officially registered Wednesday by Kenyaâ€™s electoral authority.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission cleared Prime Minister Raila Odinga and running mate Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka as candidates for the Coalition for Reform and Democracy. It also listed presidential candidate Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former government minister and vice presidential candidate William Ruto as candidates for the Jubilee Alliance.
Kenyatta and Ruto face crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court for allegedly orchestrating the post poll chaos after the flawed 2007 presidential vote. A high court will determine the candidatesâ€™ compliance for the positions.
A total of eight candidates will vie for the presidency in the March 4 elections. Candidates must get 50 percent of the vote plus one in order to be elected. Otherwise the top two candidates will compete head-to-head in a runoff vote in April, the same month that Kenyatta and Ruto face trial at The Hague.-The WashintonPost