Uhuru Kenyatta suspends his social media accounts
Friday March 22 2019
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta is offline following suspension of his social media accounts.
Being the most followed African leader on Twitter, the blackout sparked speculation that his handle, @UKenyatta with 3.62 million followers, may have been debarred by the microblogging site.
The verified Twitter account was the first to be suspended. Search for UKenyatta returned a "Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!" response.
The President's Facebook account was suspended shortly afterwards.
However, none of the social media sites gave explanation as to why the accounts were offline as is the case whenever action is taken over violations of the terms of service.
Amid growing speculation, State House chief of staff Mr Nzioka Waita sent a tweet saying the President's accounts had been deactivated.
"On account of unauthorised access to the official social media handles of the President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, all official social media handles for the President have been temporarily suspended to allow for the necessary remedial measures to be undertaken," he said.
The statement came after commentators on the social platforms questioned the President's last tweet before the suspension.
“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. I won’t be clouded by ethnicity or status in my quest to leave behind a united nation and I will continue championing for Kenya’s unity,” read the tweet.
Kenyans speculated that the tweet had targeted the Deputy President William Ruto who has recently claimed that the country's anti-graft war had taken a turn it into war against him with the aim of scuttling his 2022 presidential ambitions.
“There has been an attempt to hijack war on corruption and turn it into war against a specific individual. A war on corruption that lacks integrity becomes corruption itself. A war that lacks integrity is impunity,” Mr Ruto had said.
It appears that State House, fearing backlash for Mr Ruto's allies decided to deactivate the accounts.
“The President could be avoiding confrontation by cutting the direct communication and response to him by those who raise issues against him on social media, especially now that the files incriminating suspects of the dams scandal are ready and arrests could happen any time,” said Mr Joel Soi, a political analyst and lecturer at Kabianga University.
It is not the first time social media accounts associated with the president, State House and his office have been suspended.
In July 2018, two Twitter accounts- @PresidentKE and @PSCU_Digital- were pulled down over hacking claims.
“In this regard and with immediate effect the only official digital media channels that will convey information for and on behalf of the President, Her Excellency the First Lady and State House are as detailed below: Twitter: @StateHouseKenya, @UKenyatta, @FirstLadyKenya @KanzeDena; Facebook: State House Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, @Office of the First Lady Kenya,” Mr Waita said then.
President Kenyatta is in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, where he is on a State visit.
-Reporting by Hellen Githaiga, Anita Chepkoech, Harry Misiko and Augustine Sang.