‘Pro­posed law will muz­zle Kenyan press’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

NAIROBI: Kenyan me­dia and op­po­si­tion politi­cians have crit­i­cised me­dia rules pro­posed by the gov­ern­ment, say­ing they would muz­zle the press and stunt democ­racy.

Kenyan MPs voted to pass a new law that em­pow­ers the gov­ern­ment to form a pow­er­ful tri­bunal to draw up a code of con­duct for the me­dia.

In a re­gion where sev­eral na­tions tightly con­trol news­gath­er­ing, Kenya’s me­dia has en­joyed broad free­doms to crit­i­cise suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments.

Jour­nal­ists said the aim of the new rules was to stop in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports on cor­rup­tion or that hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count.

The Daily Na­tion, the big­gest cir­cu­la­tion news­pa­per in east Africa, wrote: “Dark days: MPs pass law to con­trol me­dia”. The Stan­dard ran the head­line: “Democ­racy un­der at­tack”.

The gov­ern­ment said the bill was still open for dis­cus­sion. “Free­dom of the press is not un­der at­tack in Kenya,” In­for­ma­tion Sec­re­tary Fred Ma­tiangi told Cit­i­zen TV.

Un­der the Kenya In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Bill, vi­o­lat­ing the code could lead to fines for an in­di­vid­ual of up to one mil­lion shillings (R116 600) or 20 mil­lion shillings for me­dia out­lets.

Al­though de­tails are to be out­lined, the bill pro­poses that lo­cally pro­duced con­tent, in­clud­ing ad­ver­tis­ing, on Kenyan TV sta­tions be not less than 45 per­cent. Me­dia ex­ec­u­tives wor­ried the move could hurt rev­enue earned from for­eign ad­ver­tis­ing.

Un­der the bill, the gov­ern- ment could re­cover un­paid fines di­rectly from bank ac­counts of in­di­vid­u­als or com­pa­nies. The tri­bunal could also rec­om­mend sus­pend­ing or re­mov­ing an in­di­vid­ual from the jour­nal­ists’ reg­is­ter.

For­mer prime min­is­ter and Pres­i­dent Uhuru Kenyatta’s de­feated ri­val for the pres­i­dency, Raila Odinga said: “Laws like the one passed to­day are only found in neigh­bour­ing dic­ta­tor­ships. It is my hope that we are not try­ing to copy and paste the dra­co­nian laws of our neigh­bours.” – Reuters

Congo army shuns call for cease­fire

KAM­PALA/ RU­MANGABO, Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo: Uganda has called on the DRC army and M23 rebels to cease fire as peace talks pro­gressed in Kam­pala to end a 20-month con­flict.

How­ever, while the rebels said they were ready for a peace deal, gov­ern­ment forces vowed to pur­sue their mil­i­tary ad­van­tage and crush the re­bel­lion in the DRC’s min­eral-rich east.

Car crash was ter­ror at­tack, says China

BEI­JING: China’s do­mes­tic se­cu­rity chief be­lieves a fatal ve­hi­cle crash in Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square in which five died was planned by a Mus­lim Uighur sep­a­ratist group, des­ig­nated a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion by the US and UN.

Meng Jianzhu said the East Turkestan Is­lamic Move­ment was be­hind the at­tack.

On Mon­day, an SUV ploughed through by­standers on the edge of Tianan­men Square and burst into flames, killing the three peo­ple in the car and two by­standers.

Bei­jing po­lice have ar­rested five peo­ple.

X marks the spot for in­ter­sex­u­als

BER­LIN: Ger­many has be­come the first Euro­pean coun­try to al­low par­ents of new­born ba­bies to leave blank the male or fe­male boxes on birth cer­tifi­cates, cre­at­ing a third in­de­ter­mi­nate cat­e­gory.

The leg­isla­tive change, which went into ef­fect yes­ter­day, is de­signed to al­low in­ter­sex­ual peo­ple to de­ter­mine their sex later in life.

Crowd protests against del­e­ga­tion

BA­MAKO: More than 1 000 Malians burned tyres and set fire to the mayor’s res­i­dence in the north­ern city of Gao to protest against the make-up of a del­e­ga­tion rep­re­sent­ing them at a na­tion­wide con­fer­ence.

The demon­stra­tion broke out as rep­re­sen­ta­tives gath­ered at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Con­fer­ence on North­ern Mali in Ba­mako for three days of talks on pro­mot­ing peace and equal­ity.

Mayor filmed ‘smok­ing crack’

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