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US, UN maintain unusual silence on Kenya TV shutdown

New York The US and the UN, despite having built a reputation globally as defenders of freedom of expression, continue to maintain an unusual silence as the Kenya government clamps down on independent journalists and media.

Both have so far not criticised the move to shut down NTVKTN News and Citizen TV.

In the Kenyan case, UN and US have so far been unwilling to denounce the government’s action of violating press freedom.

State Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday — 48 hours after the three stations were silenced.

In remarks to reporters on Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric did not take issue with the Kenya government’s apparent attack on press freedom.

FREE ATMOSPHERE

“We would want to see an atmosphere in which media is able to operate freely,” Mr Dujarric said in response to a journalist’s question as to whether the UN is “doing anything” about the TV shutdown.

Mr Dujarric had temporised less the previous day.

“We do, of course, feel that it is critical for the media to be able to operate freely and to report freely on these situations,” he said at a press briefing in New York on Tuesday.

Then too, however, the UN spokesman avoided direct criticism of the kenya government’s action against the three TV stations.

OBASANJO

Two weeks ago, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to Kenya to help avert a political crisis that analysts warned could be sparked by Mr Odinga’s “swearing-in.”

Mr Obansanjo’s mission ended unsuccessfully.

The US had earlier expressed opposition to Mr Odinga’s initiative.

“Forming a separate or parallel government is really unhelpful,” Donald Yamamoto, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, said in December.

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