Kenya deports opposition figure who attended ‘swearing-in’

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga of NASA coalition, escorted by businessman Jimi Wanjigi, gestures during a swearing-in ceremony as the president of the People’s Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, in this Jan. 30, 2018 file photo. — Reuters

NAIROBI — Kenya’s government said on Wednesday it had deported a politician arrested for witnessing the mock inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as the “people’s president,” an event considered to be treason, as fears grew that East Africa’s most stable democracy was edging closer to a dictatorship.

Politician Miguna Miguna renounced his Kenyan citizenship years ago and never reclaimed it, Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said. The government said it had deported him to Canada, where Miguna has said he was granted political asylum after he and other Kenyan student officials in 1987 were detained, tortured and released without trial.

Miguna called the government’s latest actions illegal and said he would challenge them in court.

“The illegitimate, despotic regime of (President) Uhuru Kenyatta and (Deputy President) William Ruto forcefully placed me on a late-night KLM flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam in flagrant violation of my constitutional rights, five valid court orders and common decency,” he said in a statement.

Miguna described his arrest last week as a “violent invasion of my home by more than 34 hooded criminals” using detonators to gain entry without warrants or identifying themselves. He said he was detained incommunicado for five days “under the most horrendous, cruel and inhumane condition imaginable,” with police officers threatening his life.

Police did not immediately comment on his accusations. They have said they charged Miguna in a court outside the capital, Nairobi.

Odinga’s ceremony last week was meant to protest Kenyatta’s election win last year. The opposition claims the original vote was rigged and that electoral reforms were not made after the Supreme Court nullified the election and ordered a fresh one. The opposition boycotted the second vote.

In a statement Wednesday, Kenyatta warned politicians to avoid “sideshows” and get to work, saying that “the elections are over.”

Kenya’s government responded to the mock inauguration by shutting down the broadcasts of the country’s top three TV stations for nearly a week. At least one other opposition figure has been arrested.

The government this week also suspended the passports of 14 opposition leaders. Director of Immigration Gordon Kihalangwa said the suspensions were due to ongoing investigations but did not give details. — AP