As temperatures hit 11 degrees Celcius on Tuesday night at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport in Paris, a Kenyan activist remained stranded for the second time in one day as yet another airline refused to have him on board their flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.

Red Alert

Earlier on in the day, Dr. Miguna Miguna, an author, lawyer and political activist, was denied permission to board a Nairobi bound Lufthansa Airlines flight from Berlin’s Tegel International Airport following a ‘red alert’ allegedly issued by Kenyan authorities. The alert allegedly prohibited the airline from landing in Kenya if it had the activist on board.

He also claimed that the Kenyan government had “demanded that Lufthansa should not fly me into any other African country, either.”

While Lufthansa Airlines have not issued any statement regarding the red alert, Kenyan media houses reported that the government was keen on facilitating Dr. Miguna’s safe entry into Kenya and that the issue with his transit was being sorted out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Confirming, the second incident at CDG Airport, Air France tweeted that they were acting on the orders of Kenyan authorities.

How did we get here?

Dr. Miguna who holds both Kenyan and Canadian citizenship was forcefully ejected from Kenya in February 2018 for participating in the swearing-in former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to form a parallel government on January 30th, 2018. Mr. Odinga was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s main challenger in the hotly contested 2017 polls. He was arrested and detained for several days before being charged with treason. He was eventually ejected out of the country, and the government confiscated his Kenyan passport.

Dr. Miguna was denied entry back into the country in March 2018 despite a peace accord between the president and his then challenger Mr. Kenyatta. His second attempt to enter the country in 2019 was also unsuccessful. He was denied entry by immigration officials, and later forcefully bundled into a Dubai bound plane.

All these ensued despite Dr. Miguna obtaining court orders through his lawyers, instructing the government to reinstate his citizenship and provide him with travel documents to facilitate his entry into Kenya. The government had argued that Dr. Miguna had relinquished his Kenyan citizenship when he acquired Canadian citizenship. This is despite the fact that Kenya allows for dual citizenship, and that Dr. Miguna is a Kenyan citizen by birth who only attained Canadian citizenship while on exile from the autocratic administration of former President Daniel Moi. Dr. Miguna was also cleared to run for Governor of Nairobi in 2017 elections, something he could only do as a Kenyan  Citizen.

After the elections in which he ran as an independent candidate and lost to a candidate from the President’s coalition, he joined hands with the opposition NASA coalition led by Mr. Odinga. He was behind the formation of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) which was responsible for coordinating mass action and boycott of products from companies alleged to had been supporting President Kenyatta. He declared himself an NRM General despite the outfit not being a military one.

He has severally torn into the reputations of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto often referring to them as “despots.”

Why a lone ranger today?

When he made his first attempt to re-enter Kenya, Dr. Miguna was humiliated by immigration officials and not even the intervention of Mr. Odinga who was then cordial with Uhuru Kenyatta would grant him entry. The government said that they would allow him entry if he presented himself as a Canadian, but he had insisted on getting into the country as a Kenyan. He claimed that entering the country as a Canadian would deny him the right to participate in politics. Mr. Odinga and a section of his lawyers had attempted to persuade him to accept the government offer but he stuck to his guns.

Dr. Miguna has since his ejection also turned his guns on Mr. Odinga accusing him of benefiting from the agreement with President Kenyatta at the expense of the lives of his supporters lost during the last elections. In his tweets and published books, Dr. Miguna portrays Mr. Odinga as a selfish politician only interested in personal gains.

His published books include “Peeling Back the Mask: A quest for justice” which was published after an initial fallout with Mr. Odinga in the run-up to the 2013 polls, and “Treason: A case against tyrants and renegades,” published in 2019.

The opposition coalition has since stopped paying his legal fees.

Dr. Miguna has also left other trails of enemies along Kenya’s political, civil society and media landscapes. Even among the general public, he is mostly popular for his dramatic social media attacks of public figures.

Who doesn’t want him back?

Earlier this week, the government through the department of immigration had promised to facilitate Dr. Miguna’s entry into the country. In a statement, the department said that it was going to fully comply with court orders issued in 2018.

That the department of immigration has on several occasions blatantly disobeyed court orders clearly shows that the head of the institution is acting on orders from very high up the administration of this country.

Dr. Miguna, however, blames his woes on President Kenyatta and his foe-turned buddy Raila Odinga. In a series of tweets, he accuses them of terrorizing him, tearing into their unity, fight against corruption and attempts at changing the Kenyan constitution to introduce a new governance structure.

While, to some Dr. Miguna’s woes are a product of his own making, the fact that the government has on several occasions willfully disobeyed lawful court orders should be an issue all Kenyans are concerned about irrespective of what their personal feelings about Dr. Miguna are. A government that treats court orders like mere suggestions, even to the extent of subjecting it’s own citizen to forceful exile is a government that is not keen on protecting the rule of law. Today, it’s him, tomorrow it might be any of the 45 million of us.

Photo courtesy.