March 28, 2018 / 12:32 PM / a year ago

Kenya police keep opposition politician in custody in defiance of court order

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta flanked by opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition address a news conference after meeting at the Harambee house office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/Files

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan police kept an opposition politician in custody on Wednesday in apparent defiance of a judge’s order to bring him to court ahead of a possible release from detention, the politician’s lawyer said.

The dispute over Miguna Miguna is part of a wider tussle between the government and the judiciary and it could also strain relations that have recently improved between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The two leaders announced on March 9 they would set aside years of acrimony and work together to unite Kenya, which is divided along political and ethnic lines in the wake of elections last year in which around 100 people were killed.

The surprise announcement promised a fresh start for politics in Kenya, a country that is east Africa’s richest economy and a hub for diplomacy, trade and security.

Authorities deported Miguna in February saying he had rescinded his citizenship.

He was also charged with treason because of his role in a mock swearing-in ceremony for Odinga in January that was a direct challenge to Kenyatta, who won a second term in October.

Police detained Miguna on Monday at the main airport in the capital as he returned after a court ruled that he should be allowed back into Kenya. The court ordered Miguna, the interior minister and the police chief to appear before it.

There was no immediate comment from the police on Wednesday as to why Miguna was not brought to court.

“The court should bite those disobeying court orders harder,” James Orengo, a senator and lawyer for Miguna, told the court. Government critics say authorities defy court orders in cases involving politics and opposition politicians.

Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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