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Kenya president directs AG to review controversial media bill

[JURIST] Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] on Wednesday directed the attorney general and information minister to review a controversial media bill [press release] that gives power to a communication commission to regulate broadcasting with threats of fines or incarceration. The Communications Amendment Bill of 2008 [text, PDF], which was signed into law [JURIST report] by Kibaki on Friday, allows the minister of information to control aspects of broadcast content. Kibaki was acting in response to a letter from the chairman of the Media Owners Association (MOA) of Kenya objecting to the new legislation. Attorney General Amos Wako [official website] on Thursday asked the MOA of Kenya to hand in suggestions and comments [The Standard report] by Tuesday.

The MOA has been outspoken [KBC report] on the passage of this bill. The MOA believes that the legislation will curtail freedoms that are important in maintaining the development of the nation. Press freedom has been a long-standing issue in Kenya. Last year, Kibaki stressed the importance of a free press when he refused to sign [JURIST report] a bill that would have required journalists to disclose confidential sources.

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