NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – The government has given media owners and other stakeholders up to next Tuesday to formally draft proposals for amendments on the controversial Kenya Communications Act for consideration.,
Attorney General Amos Wako said the draft which must include specific recommendations should reach his office by 4.30 pm on January 13 to enable him expedite the process.
In a statement sent to newsrooms, Mr Wako said he would thereafter convene a meeting with Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio and media representatives to deliberate the matter.
This follows Wednesday’s Presidential directive that Mr Wako and Mr Poghisio study amendments proposed by the media on both the Kenya Communications Act of 1998 and 2008.
“If possible, specific draft proposals for amendments to the Acts should be presented to give effect to the recommendations,” Mr Wako said.
The President’s directive was a response to a letter from the Chairman of the Media Owners Association Linus Gitahi, appealing to him to consider proposed amendments to the Act.
“I have noted concerns by the media regarding the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008 and asked the AG and the Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio to study the proposed amendments and consult with the media representatives,” the President’s statement on Wednesday said.
The proposed recommendations are to be tabled at a Cabinet meeting for consideration.
The Media fraternity and civil society have criticised the new law which, among other provisions, gives the government power to raid broadcast houses at will and control broadcast content.
The MOA and the Editors Guild had on Tuesday said they would snub calls by the government for dialogue on the contentious sections of the controversial law.
“We have held many meetings with the ministry and as we held those meetings, the Bill continued to move from one stage to the other and we have not seen any fruitful outcome,” Mr Gitahi stated.
He further stressed that they would not attend talks on the controversial law unless its implementation was suspended.
But Wednesday’s move by the President was seen as the first indication that the government was indeed willing to back down from the draconian law.