By Magdalene Mukami
Kenya on Monday night prevented two top opposition politicians from leaving the country for Harare to join opposition leader Raila Odinga in the funeral ceremony of former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Kenya's top immigration official said.
Director of Immigration Gordon Kihalangwa defended the move saying his department was basically obeying court orders.
The incident comes after the government temporarily suspended the two opposition figures’ passports in what Kenya’s judiciary has termed as illegal.
“Last night, on 19th February 2018 at about 21:30 hrs., Hon. James Orengo and Mr. Jimi Wanjigi were scheduled to travel to Harare Zimbabwe, however, the passports of the two had been legally suspended earlier [and] the suspension was still in force when the two arrived at the airport,” Kihalangwa said.
Kihalangwa said that his department had learned from the media about the court order that the two could travel abroad freely.
“Neither the director of Immigration Services nor the department was served with such orders as is required by law,” Kihalangwa said.
He added that airport officials had requested the two opposition supporters to provide the court orders but they failed to do so.
“The two could, therefore, not be allowed to proceed with their journey until copies of the said orders were availed," he said.
Salim Lone, an adviser to Raila Odinga, told local media: "A court order was immediately served on the airport immigration office for the return of their passports, but the officers refused to carry out the court order and the passports were not returned.”