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Unanswered questions on Uhuru Kenyatta's offline accounts

Monday March 25 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta. In a tweet that has since been deleted, President Kenyatta said no one will be spared, not even family members or close political allies, in the fight against corruption. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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Since the Jubilee administration took power in 2013, there have several attempts to muzzle the media and cut the flow of information from the government to the public.

But on Friday, something unusual happened: a powerful operative at Harambee House, which houses the Office of the President, attempted to gag the most powerful man in Kenya—  President Kenyatta.

The yet unnamed administrator of the president’s Twitter (@UKenyatta) and Facebook (Uhuru Kenyatta) accounts attempted without much success to withhold some of the information Mr Kenyatta released while meeting Kenyans in Windhoek, Namibia.

He / she edited out a section of a video in which the president appeared to take a swipe at his deputy William Ruto in his war against grand corruption.

“If you are corrupt we will fight you. You can be my brother or my sister or my closest political ally, but if you are corrupt we will fight you,” the president told Kenyans living in the southern African nation.

This statement was posted on Mr Kenyatta’s Twitter handle at 6am on Friday and it immediately started trending.

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But not for long: Less than an hour later this tweet and the entire account were brought down, with Mr Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita explaining that the move was to contain a hacker on the loose.

Mr Kenyatta’s Facebook account (#Uhuru Kenyatta) suffered a similar fate, with a similar explanation from Mr Waita.

What the powerful operative did not released was that the same information was contained in the press statement that the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) emailed newsrooms on Friday morning.

But curiously, this reference had been edited out in the video that PSCU released to newsrooms via its 4Shared channel.

In his / her wisdom, the powerful operative removed the section “closest political ally”, a reference political pundits said targeted Mr Ruto.

The move left many wondering and attempts by the Nation to get answers from State House spokeswoman Kanze Dena and Mr Waita have been futile.

On Monday, Ms Dena told the Nation “no comment” while calls to Mr Waita’s phone went unanswered.

Here are six unanswered questions on the suspension of Mr Kenyatta’s accounts:

  1. Who are the administrators of the president’s personal social media accounts? Since these are Mr Kenyatta’s personal accounts, does he ever take control?

  2. Were the Twitter and Facebook accounts hacked. If yes, who did it and why?

  3. Are there admins who are not authorised to manage the accounts? Who are they, and whom do they work for?

  4. If the accounts were hacked, was it necessary to suspend them? Wouldn’t change of passwords suffice?

  5. Who edited the video and removed the words “my closest political ally”? What prompted this action?

  6. Are there cracks and factions in PSCU?

  7. Does the government have a social media policy governing use of personal accounts by state officers?

Report by Harry Misiko, Joel Muinde and Augustine Sang.