NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – The controversial Kenya Communication (Amendment) Bill of 2008, may not see the light of day after all, going by revelations made by Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday.
Speaking in Kisumu, Mr Odinga hinted that President Mwai Kibaki may not assent to the Bill ‘until the contentious clauses in the document were ironed out to ensure that the freedom of the press is upheld’.
He assured Kisumu residents that ‘he had prevailed on the President to send the bill back to the floor of the House for debate and subsequent review of the thorny issues’ that recently sparked public outcry and protests among the media and human rights organisations.
“I personally talked to the President not to sign the bill because the freedom of the press is not negotiable. The gains we enjoy did not come overnight but through a protracted struggle and we cannot afford to lose it,” said the PM.
His made the remarks even as Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka defended Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio over the controversial Bill.
The VP held that Mr Poghisio ought not to be demonised over the bill that has drawn rage among the media and the public, over its supposed attempt to gag the press.
He reiterated that all contentious issues in the bill need to be discussed and necessary amendments made.
The Bill seeks to give the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) – the telecommunications regulator – more powers over the media and the information technology industries.
Meanwhile, the PM told a gathering in Kisumu that the government had finalised plans to hold talks with Ugandan authorities on ways of reclaiming several islands in Lake Victoria, whose ownership is disputed between the two countries.
He said a Kenyan delegation had already been selected to negotiate for the return of the Islands, which he claims were in Kenyan territory but were seized from locals by former Ugandan leader Idi Amin.
The premier said three Cabinet Ministers including Moses Wetangula (Foreign Affairs), George Saitoti (Internal Security) and Yusuf Haji (Defence) were set to meet Ugandan officials to resolve and determine the way forward over the disputed border line.
“We want to dialogue with the Ugandan delegation and see to it that Lolwe, Remba, Sigulu and Wayasi Islands are reverted back to Kenyan territory, since president Amin disregarded the borderline and illegally claimed ownership of the contested islands,” he said.