Opposition politician detained at Nairobi airport


The lawyer of an opposition politician of dual Kenyan and Canadian citizenship said his client was detained by police at Nairobi airport during an attempt to force him onto a plane to Canada.

Miguna Miguna, a lawyer, was deported by Kenyan authorities in February for his role in a protest by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who maintains he was the winner of an election that returned President Uhuru Kenyatta to power last year.

Shortly before his deportation, which came after Odinga enraged government by staging a symbolic “swearing-in ceremony”, Miguna was charged with treason. More than 100 people were killed in unrest after last year’s election.

Earlier this month a Kenyan court ordered Miguna’s Kenyan passport be restored and he be granted entry to the country. He landed at Nairobi’s international airport on Monday afternoon, lawyer Nelson Havi said.

Immigration officials asked Miguna to surrender his Canadian passport and refused to accept his Kenyan identity card as a valid travel document, Havi said.

An hours-long standoff ensued before plainclothes officers dragged Miguna onto an Emirates airline plane bound for Dubai, opposition Senator James Orengo told Reuters.

Live footage broadcast by private Kenyan TV station Citizen showed Miguna in the doorway of what appeared to be an Emirates plane shouting at a crew member: “I’m not going anywhere you cannot take me from my country by force.”
“There was an attempt to force him onto the plane and he resisted justifiably,” said Orengo, who witnessed Miguna being “terribly manhandled, pushed and dragged” by plainclothes officers at the airport.

Orengo said officers took the politician off the plane and briefly held him at airport immigration offices before taking him to a police station in the airport early on Tuesday.

Odinga came to the airport on Monday night to intervene on Miguna’s behalf and said his Kenyan passport should be returned as a condition for political dialogue, according to Orengo.

An interior ministry statement said Miguna became “unruly and threw a tantrum” at the airport and he demanded to be allowed to enter Kenya without being cleared through immigration.
“We have not denied him entry, we just need him to follow the process like everybody else,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told Reuters.

Kenya’s biggest newspaper, the Daily Nation, reported plainclothes police slapped and kicked journalists covering the incident. The Nation published a photo of a cameraman holding up his bloodied arm.

The scuffle at the airport comes after Odinga and Kenyatta announced they would heal their divisions and vowed to unify Kenya in an announcement on March 9.