A prominent strategist for Kenya’s opposition who criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta and called for some parts of the country to secede was released on Monday after being briefly detained on suspicion of inciting violence.
Kenya’s public prosecutor said on Twitter David Ndii was released on police bond and “appropriate actions” would be taken after investigations are completed.
Police earlier said Ndii, an economist and anti-corruption campaigner arrested on Sunday in Diani, was “under interrogation regarding … the offence of incitement to violence”.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga condemned the arrest, saying: “He committed no crime. This is designed to intimidate and fragment the people of Kenya.”
Pro-democracy groups said Ndii’s arrest raised concerns about freedom of expression.
“Ndii has been at the forefront of articulating problems with the way the country is run,” said Gladwell Otieno, executive director of Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) in Nairobi.
Ndii is an outspoken critic of Kenyatta, sworn in for a second presidential term last week after a prolonged elections season that has disrupted the economy and spurred protests that killed more than 60 people.
A senior policy adviser to the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), he has called for independence for western and coastal areas since a disputed August election voided by the Supreme Court.
Odinga, who boycotted a repeat poll in October saying the election commission failed to carry out sufficient reforms, said his preference is for Kenya to remain united.
Kenyatta won the re-run election with 98% of the vote but the country, a Western ally in a volatile region, remains divided after months of bitter campaigning and sporadic violent clashes.
Salim Lone, an Odinga adviser, said Ndii was helping to organise the “swearing in” of Odinga by a people’s assembly on December 12, Kenya’s Independence Day, a plan that has raised the prospect of further confrontations with security forces.
Ndii’s wife Judith Mwende Gatabaki told journalists he was arrested by men who identified themselves as members of the “flying squad” — a police unit that is part of the criminal investigation directorate.
She said they searched the couple’s hotel room before taking him away and she had been unable to reach her husband since.
“We came here to attend a wedding. There was nothing political about it and my husband is not a criminal,” Gatabaki said.