Kenya’s presidential candidates dove into a final day of campaigning Saturday before Tuesday’s narrowly contested election as many worried that the vote could turn violent. The main opposition coalition said an American and a Canadian who were assisting with its campaign were ordered deported.
On Saturday, the 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 American is John Aristotle Phillips, CEO of Washington D.C.-based campaign data firm Aristotle Inc., and the Canadian is fellow executive Andreas Katsouris, said Brandi Travis, a spokesperson at the company.
Travis says the two men were assisting opposition candidate Raila Odinga with issues including strategy and data analysis and had chosen to get involved in the Kenyan election because they thought it had the potential for irregularities.
“We pick our international campaigns very carefully,” Travis says. “Odinga was a candidate they really believed in.”
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.
A police official earlier said immigration officials were holding the two foreigners at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the media.
The detentions 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 opposition 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.