Kenyan Oppn raids prominent media group

Thousands of angry Kenyans paraded through Nairobi protesting against last week's police raid on a prominent media group.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 15:43 IST

Thousands of angry Kenyans, including prominent opposition politicians, paraded through Nairobi on Tuesday, protesting against last week's police raid on the country's second largest media group.

More than 2,000 people took part in the demonstration organised by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), a coalition of parties oppossed to President Mwai Kibaki.

They poured scorn on last Thursday's raid, damaged a printing press of the Standard Group media, burnt thousands of its newspapers and disrupted its television channel for several hours.

"We are demonstrating in order to protect press freedom in Kenya. Press freedom in Kenya is under siege," former roads minister and ODM leader said.

"The freedoms of Kenyans and of the media are not favours from the government... A government that does not respect the freedom of speech must go," said William Ruto, the secretary general of opposition Kenya African National Union (KANU) party.

The demonstrators carried placards that called for the resignation of Kibaki, whose three-year-old government has been beset by numerous defections and corruption scandals as well as a crushing defeat in a constitutional referendum last year.

"Hitler burnt newspapers ... and the Jews," "To hell with the snake government," Operation Kibaki Out," read some of the placards.

Last Thursday's raid, which the first by authorities on a mainstream media outlet since independence from Britain in 1963 has already drawn condemnation from the diplomatic corps in Nairobi, which was responding to a Standard report that alleged that Kibaki had held a secret meeting with ally-turned-foe Kalonzo Musyoka, his former environment minister.

Both men denied the claim, but the Standard has moved to court to declare the raid unconstitutional.

Pressed to explain the pre-dawn actions by armed and hooded officers, National Security Minister John Michuki said it was in defence of "national security" that had been at stake, and that the police had recovered vital evidence from the seized computers.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 15:43 IST