NAIROBI — The Kenyan government on Tuesday deported an opposition politician for playing a key role in the “self-inauguration” of the resistance party leader Raila Odinga in a widening crackdown that is roiling the country.
Miguna Miguna, who was put on a KLM flight to Canada on Tuesday night, was one of three politicians arrested for participating in Odinga’s inauguration as the “people’s president” on Jan. 30.
The protest ceremony came after an extended and fraught election period that Odinga ultimately lost. Lawyer Tom Kajwang, who participated in the ceremony, was also arrested. Police suspended passports from 14 other opposition leaders and shut down three television stations for broadcasting the ceremony.
Kenya has long been lauded for a vigorous democracy — including a Supreme Court that took the unprecedented step of annulling the results of the August presidential election for widespread discrepancies.
The crackdown by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, however, has raised concerns about the state of democracy in the country, which has the most robust economy in East Africa.
After the August election was annulled, a rerun was held Oct. 26, but Odinga boycotted, saying none of the problems with the election system had been addressed. During the tense election period, nearly 100 people were killed in clashes with pro-government forces, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
Kenyatta won reelection by a landslide.
In response, Odinga declared a National Resistance Movement (NRM) and said he had actually won the August contest, justifying his “inauguration” ceremony.
While the government allowed the ceremony, which featured thousands of cheering Odinga supporters, to take place, afterward it declared the movement illegal and began arresting people.
Miguna was picked up by police in a raid at his Nairobi home Friday and detained for five days. A court order for his release on a $500 bond was ignored. He was charged Tuesday with being part of the outlawed NRM and taking part in the ceremony and then was deported.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka tweeted on Wednesday that Miguna had renounced his Kenyan citizenship years back, becoming a Canadian citizen, and that his deportation was justified.
In a statement issued from Amsterdam on Wednesday, Miguna disputed those claims.
“I have never, ever renounced my Kenyan citizenship and will never do that. I’ve never even contemplated it,” the statement read.
Since the crackdown the government has shown a pattern of ignoring court orders. Immediately after the three TV stations were shut down following the ceremony, the Supreme Court ordered that they be allowed back on air. Two stations were finally allowed to broadcast again on Monday while the third remains off air.
Chief Justice David Maraga issued a statement Wednesday reminding officials that they had taken an oath to uphold the nation’s constitution and that disobeying a court order was a violation of that document.
“There have been worrying developments in the administration of justice that threaten the rule of law,” Maraga said. “The recent disregard of court orders is an act that is not only inimical to the rule of law but is also completely at odds with Kenyas constitutional outlook.”