Kenya’s president vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have imposed fines and restrictions on journalists, saying it was unconstitutional, the first time he has used his power to reject legislation.
Lawmakers voted the bill through this month, triggering an outcry from opposition groups and the media, who said it would stunt democracy in a country which enjoys broad press freedoms.
A day later, President Uhuru Kenyatta, told journalists he would make sure their rights were protected and on Wednesday he sent the bill back to parliament, his office said.
“The President recommended that some of the sections be deleted and changes be made to the Bill to reflect the constitutional threshold,” the presidency said.
Critics say rules laid down in the bill would curb investigative reports on corruption that plagues Kenyan public life and some media groups threatened to go to court to block it.
The bill set up a tribunal that would have drawn up and enforced a code of conduct for journalists.
Breaking that code would have left reporters facing fines of up to 1 million Kenyan shillings ($11,500) – or 20 million shillings for media outlets.
It would have also forced Kenyan outlets to get at least 45 per cent of their content and advertising from local providers, a move media executives worried would have hurt revenue.