‘Proposed law will muzzle Kenyan press’
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’