NAIROBI – The High Court of Kenya ruled on Thursday the recent deportation of an opposition figure to Canada illegal, amid claims from the official ruling party that the judiciary was biased in favor of the opposition.
Miguna Miguna, a lawyer who is a member of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, was deported on Feb. 7 despite five court orders that demanded he either be released or produced in court by the government, who claimed that he had revoked his Kenyan citizenship to acquire a Canadian nationality.
The move came a week after Miguna swore in Raila Odinga as the “people’s president” in the wake of two presidential elections in 2017 that NASA claimed were rigged in favor of the Jubilee Party candidate Uhuru Kenyatta.
Judge Luka Kimura on Thursday ruled that the deportation was “null and void and of no legal effect because it was issued in contempt of the orders of this court.”
Lawyers taking part in the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, which denounces the legal impunity enjoyed by state officials, marched outside the Supreme Court in Nairobi to protest the government’s disobedience of court orders.
Each sported a yellow ribbon and many carried placards reading “Obey the law,” “Nobody is above the law,” and “respect the rule of law,” among other slogans.
The rift between courts and the ruling party intensified after Kenyan media late on Wednesday published an open letter to judges sent Friday by Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju in which he accused the country’s judiciary of pro-NASA bias.
“Irresponsible actions from the Judiciary, Executive or Parliament can burn this country – and with due respect you almost succeeded in burning the country after August 8th Elections,” read the letter, referring to the first presidential elections in 2017, which were annulled by the Supreme Court after Odinga denounced that the electronic voting system was rigged.
The repeat of the elections, held on Oct. 26, was boycotted by the NASA candidate, who claimed that there were still no guarantees that they were being held freely and fairly.
However, Kenyan courts ruled that Odinga had not properly revoked his candidacy, meaning he was still on ballots.
He did not recognize his second electoral loss that year, leading to his unofficial investment by Miguna.