Kenyan opposition figure charged with treason over Odinga's 'swearing in'

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 06, 2018 3:22 AM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan opposition politician was charged on Tuesday with treason for his involvement in a symbolic presidential "swearing in" of opposition leader Raila Odinga that was a challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The charge sheet presented by police to a court in Kajiado County, neighboring Nairobi, said Miguna Miguna was being charged with "being present and consenting to the administration of an oath to commit a capital offence, namely treason".

Miguna was also charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly and engaging in organized criminal activity.

Privately owned Citizen Television reported that Miguna had refused to plead to the charges he faced, saying his case had to be heard before a judge in Nairobi who had issued an order for his present to his court on Tuesday.

Miguna was arrested on Friday in a dawn raid on his home. He was granted bail of 50,000 Kenyan shillings ($500) but has remained in police custody with his whereabouts unknown - something Kenya's lawyers' association said breached his rights.

A journalist at the court in Kajiado said Miguna had appeared at Tuesday's hearing.

"Once again the state is wilfully violating Mr. Miguna's rights by moving him without any notice to his lawyers or his family and, in order to frustrate their access to him, to a court stationed outside Nairobi," Isaac Okero, president of the Law Society of Kenya, told reporters.

Odinga's symbolic inauguration last Tuesday in the heart of the capital of East Africa's wealthiest economy was intended as a direct challenge to Kenyatta. Odinga insists he, not Kenyatta, was the true winner of a disputed presidential election last August.

The Supreme Court later nullified the August election on procedural grounds and Kenyatta won a repeat poll in October after Odinga boycotted it, claiming it would not be fair.

Two other opposition lawmakers were also arrested and later released for their involvement in the ceremony.

Three privately owned television stations were shut down last week as they began to cover Odinga's "swearing in". Two resumed broadcasts on Monday, days after a court ordered them reopened.

($1 = 101.2000 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by Jackson Njehia and George Obulutsa; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, William Maclean)