Canadian, American opposition advisers being deported from Kenya ahead of presidential vote
A campaign data company says a Canadian working on the opposition party’s campaign was detained in Kenya and is facing deportation.
A spokesperson for Aristotle, Inc. — a political consulting company that provides various services to campaigns, including strategy and data analysis — says the Canadian senior vice-president of global services, Andreas Katsouris, as well as American CEO John Aristotle Phillips, were detained Friday night. They’re expected to be deported Saturday night.
Brandi Travis said Katsouris is a Canadian working out of Toronto.
Travis said the two men were in the African country assisting opposition candidate Raila Odinga, and had become involved in the Kenyan election because they thought it had the potential for irregularities.
“We pick our international campaigns very carefully,” Travis said. “Odinga was a candidate they really believed in.”
Saturday was the last day of campaigning in the election, which is set for Tuesday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta — the son of Kenya’s first president — will face longtime opposition leader Odinga, the son of the country’s first vice-president.
Odinga has run in vain for the top post in three previous contests.
On Saturday, Odinga’s National Super Alliance said the two foreigners were to be deported after being taken from their homes on Friday. It was not immediately clear why they had been detained.
The U.S. Embassy in Kenya said on Twitter that they were “safe and departing” the country. The embassy said U.S. and Canadian officials have been in touch with their detained citizens as well as the Kenyan government.
The High Commission of Canada in Nairobi says it’s providing consular assistance to the Canadian, and that consular officials in Nairobi are in contact with local authorities as well as U.S. officials to gather additional information.
High Commissioner Sara Hradecky said on Twitter Friday that Canada is one of 22 international envoys calling for “free, fair, credible and peaceful” elections.
Recent elections in the East African high-tech and commercial hub have been hotly contested, and more than 1,000 people were killed in post-election violence a decade ago. Kenyatta prevailed over Odinga in a 2013 vote that was mostly peaceful but tainted by opposition allegations of vote-rigging.
The detentions of the two foreigners occurred at around the same time that armed and masked police raided an opposition vote counting centre, intimidating workers and seizing equipment, said James Orengo, a senior member of the National Super Alliance.
Kenyan police on Saturday denied allegations that officers broke into political party offices on Friday, saying no report of a burglary has been made to any police station.
Some in the nation of 44 million people have been leaving the capital because of the threat of chaos, while many are simply going home to vote.
The torture and killing in recent days of a key election official in charge of the electronic voting system has some concerned about the possibility of vote tampering.
Travis said Katsouris and Phillips knew there were risks associated with working for the opposition in Kenya, but they thought Odinga’s cause was worth it.
She said the men are with consular officials in the airport in Nairobi, waiting to be deported.
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