The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Kenya Union of Journalists have both condemned Azimio One Kenya Alliance Leader Raila Odinga for asking his supporters to boycott Radio Africa Group products, especially the Star Newspaper.
In a statement, MCK”s Chief Executive Officer and Secretary to the Council David Omwoyo termed Raila’s move as ‘part of efforts to manipulate public opinion and limit freedom of the press, which are both fundamental components of a healthy democracy.’
‘Such attacks undermine the freedom of the press and are attempts to undermine the role of the press in freely informing the electorates based on the editorial judgements,’ Omwoyo stated.
Omwoyo further stated that such utterances by a leading political figure put journalists who wok at The Star Newspaper at risk as they may be attacked by supporters of the political coalition.
‘Further, and given the current economic hardships being faced by the media, boycotting a national newspaper could have serious economic consequences for the newspaper and its employees, potentially leading to job losses and financial instability,’ Omwoyo added.
MCK encourages any political formations, leader or member of the public aggrieved by the media to report any complaints to the Media Complaints Commission which is legally mandated to mediate on the same.
Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) also condemned the move by Raila.
In a statement on Tuesday, KUJ said that the call will puncture the independence of the media.
“The boycott call and derogatory remarks, do not only puncture independence of the media but put at risk the lives of journalists working with the Star newspapers who will soon become victims of assault by overzealous Azimio supporters all over the country,” the statement read.
“No Raila, you are wrong on this one. KUJ is shocked beyond comfort by remarks made by Raila Odinga, calling for a boycott of Radio Africa Group products, mainly the Star newspaper.”
KUJ said remarks coming from a leader who understands the importance of a free and independent press in promoting good governance and transparency in the public process, which he is fighting for is unfortunate.
The union called upon Raila and Azimio fraternity to respect the freedom of the media.
This comes shortly after the former prime minister asked Azimio supporters to boycott Safaricom, Kenya Commercial Bank and the Star newspaper.
By Mourice Seretta