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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Kenya blocks Miguna Miguna re-entry, sparking airport drama

Authorities in Kenya want to deport an opposition politician the second time despite court orders that he should be allowed into the country, a human rights official said early Tuesday.

Miguna Miguna had been deported to Canada as part of a government crackdown on opposition politicians who participated in the mock Jan. 30 inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as a protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s disputed re-election.

A Kenyan court ordered that Miguna’s Kenyan passport be restored and that he be given safe passage into the country.

The court also ordered the government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to oversee Miguna’s return, said Sen. James Orengo, who was among the lawyers representing Miguna.

Kamanda Mucheke, an official with the rights body, said Miguna flew home Monday afternoon but was denied entry. The politician then staged a protest and police cordoned off an area in the international terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the official said.

Mucheke said that eventually about 50 plainclothes officers hustled Miguna to an Emirates airline flight bound for Dubai. Video showed a group pushing Miguna onto the plane.

“You cannot take me from country by force. … You cannot chase me from my country of birth because you have guns,” Miguna said in the video, which appeared to have been taken with a mobile phone by an airline crew member.

Mucheke said the flight left without Miguna after the politician caused a commotion.

Earlier, Miguna had told a reporter through a glass door: “Even bullets won’t stop me.”

The rights official said that up to 100 police officers beat up journalists and opposition supporters during the confrontation.

Odinga has 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 ballot 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 and shutting down TV stations that broadcast the event.

Ninety-two people have been reported killed during protests over Kenyatta’s election and there had been fears of further violence. But in a surprise move two weeks ago, Odinga and Kenyatta met publicly and shook hands, saying they had started a new initiative to heal the country.

Human rights groups and media have accused Kenyatta’s government of infringing on freedoms and attacking watchdog institutions.

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