Kenya Deports Opposition Politician as Others’ Travel Barred

NAIROBI (Capital Markets in Africa) – Kenyan authorities forced a key opposition backer to leave the country after his arrest triggered protests, as the state ordered other government opponents to surrender their passports.

Miguna Miguna, an advocate and self-declared “general” of the opposition National Resistance Movement, left Kenya Tuesday, his lawyer Nelson Havi said by phone from Nairobi, the capital, on Wednesday. Miguna said by text message from Amsterdam he plans to challenge the deportation.

 “I have instructed a battery of competent advocates to ensure that the ongoing rogue purveyors of impunity are brought to book,” Miguna said. “They are not above the law, even though they behave as if they are.”

Kenya’s government is cracking down on the opposition after National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga swore himself in as the so-called people’s president at a mock inauguration ceremony on Jan. 30. Supporters of the alliance, known as Nasa, reject the outcome of an October presidential election, which was a repeat of an annulled August ballot that handed President Uhuru Kenyatta a second term.

In addition to deporting Miguna, police also arrested two opposition lawmakers for attending the swearing-in, and halted transmissions by three television stations that broadcast the event. While two channels have resumed broadcasts, a third — Citizen TV — remains off air.

U.S. Criticism
The government’s approach has drawn criticism from U.S. Ambassador Bob Godec, who on Feb. 5 faulted the government shutdown of the media and its failure to respect court orders to reopen the channels.

The state also ordered Nasa technical adviser David Ndii and former opposition Senator Johnson Muthama to surrender their passports, both said Tuesday. Others ordered to hand in their travel documents include businessman Jimi Wanjigi, a financial backer of Nasa, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Senator James Orengo, the Nairobi-based Star newspaper reported.

Kenya’s shilling weakened 0.2 percent to 101.30 per dollar by 1:46 p.m. in Nairobi on Wednesday, while the NSE All Share Index declined 0.3 percent to 181.38.

“Kenyatta’s Jubilee government has been ham-fisted in how it has dealt with Mr. Odinga’s resistance campaign and swearing-in,” Jared Jeffery, an analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC African Economics, said in a research note. The state hasn’t made any attempt to arrest Odinga, a move that would cause likely cause widespread protests, he said.

Police charged Miguna yesterday with attending the inauguration ceremony. The government had previously warned that swearing-in Odinga would amount to treason. The National Resistance Movement, an arm of Nasa, was banned by the government on Jan. 30 after the mock inauguration.

Illegal Passport
The government deported Miguna because he was carrying an illegal Kenyan passport that was acquired at a time when dual nationality was illegal, Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said in an emailed statement. When the country’s new constitution came into force in 2010, Kenyans who had lost their citizenship as a result of acquiring other nationalities were required to apply to regain their Kenyan citizenship, which Miguna failed to do, Njoka said.

Opposition supporters plan a protest at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on Wednesday to protest Miguna’s forced departure, Havi said. On Tuesday, demonstrators marched through the streets of the western city of Kisumu and erected barricades in the southwestern town of Migori calling for Miguna’s release, after police charged him for attending the event.

Source: Bloomberg Business News


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