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Kenyan opposition politician charged over mock inauguration

In this Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 file photo, opposition politician Miguna Miguna, left, stands next to opposition leader Raila Odinga, center, lawyer Tom "T.J." Kajwang, center-right, and politician James Orengo, right, as Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya. (Ben Curtis / Associated Press)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 file photo, opposition politician Miguna Miguna, left, stands next to opposition leader Raila Odinga, center, lawyer Tom "T.J." Kajwang, center-right, and politician James Orengo, right, as Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya. (Ben Curtis / Associated Press)
By Tom Odula Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenyan police on Tuesday charged a politician over witnessing the mock inauguration last week of opposition leader Raila Odinga, an event the government considers treason, while the passports of more than a dozen opposition leaders were suspended.

Lawyers, rights activists and opposition supporters demanded the freedom of Miguna Miguna, who remained in detention despite court orders on Friday and Monday for his release. Police said they charged Miguna in a court outside the capital, Nairobi.

The government suspended the passports of 14 opposition leaders including strategist David Ndii and financier Maina Wanjigi. Director of Immigration Gordon Kihalangwa said the suspensions were due to ongoing investigations but did not give details.

Odinga’s ceremony last week proclaiming himself the “people’s president” was meant to protest President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win last year. The opposition claims the original vote was rigged and that electoral reforms were not made after the Supreme Court nullified the election and ordered a fresh one. The opposition boycotted the second vote.

Kenya’s government responded to the mock inauguration by shutting down the broadcasts of the country’s top three TV stations for nearly a week. At least one other opposition figure has been arrested.

Miguna’s arrest has sparked protests. His supporters in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city in western Kenya clashed with police, who fired tear gas at them.

“There is no way they can arrest our general and jail him for one week before presenting him to court,” protester Denis Ouma said. “We want Miguna Miguna to be released.”

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