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Kenyan opposition politician tweets he’s still detained inside airport toilet

When Miguna Miguna arrived on Monday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport plainclothes officers tried to hustle him onto an outbound plane, witnesses said. That failed when he protested.

world Updated: Mar 28, 2018 23:09 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press, Nairobi
Kenya,Kenyan opposition politician,Miguna Miguna
Miguna Miguna, a lawyer of dual Kenyan and Canadian citizenship, is seen through as glass door at the Jomo Kenyatta airport after he was detained by police in Nairobi, Kenya March 26, 2018, during an attempt to force him onto a plane to Canada. (REUTERS Photo)

Tweeting from what he called “Toilet at Terminal 2,” a Kenyan opposition politician said Wednesday he was still detained in the “filthy” facilities at the country’s main airport after he refused an attempt to deport him amid lingering election tensions.

A High Court judge declared Kenya’s interior minister, national police chief and permanent secretary for immigration in contempt of court for disregarding an order to immediately release Miguna Miguna, said a lawyer for the politician, Nelson Havi. Miguna’s lawyers asked the court to jail the officials for six months and fine them $2,000 when they are to appear in court on Thursday. The court will jail them if they don’t show, Justice George Odunga said.

Miguna had been deported to Canada last month in a crackdown on politicians who attended the mock inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga to protest President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election. A court later ordered that Miguna’s Kenyan passport be restored and that he be allowed to return.

However, when Miguna arrived on Monday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport plainclothes officers tried to hustle him onto an outbound plane, witnesses said. That failed when he protested.

On Wednesday, Miguna posted statements on social media saying he was still “detained inside a tiny and filthy toilet” in one of the terminals. “I have not eaten. I have not taken a shower. I have not been given access to my lawyers, family members and physicians.”

Lawyer Japheth Mutinda, representing Kenya’s attorney general, said Miguna could not appear in court in response to an earlier order because his entry into the country was still being processed.

Mutinda also said the interior minister, national police chief and permanent secretary for immigration failed to appear in court on Wednesday as ordered because they were at a police graduation with the president.

The airport confrontation came two weeks after a surprise meeting between opposition leader Odinga and Kenya’s president as they announced a new initiative to heal the East African nation after months of sometimes deadly election turmoil.

Odinga had argued that Kenyatta lacked legitimacy because his initial Aug. 8 re-election victory was nullified by the Supreme Court over “irregularities and illegalities.” The repeat election had a low turnout as Odinga boycotted it, citing a lack of electoral reforms.

Miguna was at Odinga’s side when he took an oath as the “people’s president” at the mock inauguration. The government responded by arresting opposition politicians.

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 23:02 IST