News / Toronto

Toronto project monitors situation in Kenya after Canadian man deported

Populace fears repeat of 2007 post-election violence.

Andreas Katsouris and his wife, Jennifer Bell.

Supplied

Andreas Katsouris and his wife, Jennifer Bell.

The Canadian government is advising citizens travelling to Kenya to be "extremely vigilant" after a Toronto man working on an election campaign was ejected from the country.

Tensions are mounting over Tuesday's contest between the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and his main opponent, Raila Odinga. It's expected to be a tight race. The opposition has already declared itself the winner, a move reminiscent of the 2007 post-election disputes that led to massive violence.

"If the losers of the election decide to really energetically challenge those results, even if they don't intend to cause violence, it can quickly become violent," explained Christopher Tuckwood, executive director of The Sentinel Project, by phone from Nairobi on Monday. "I'd say that the general mood is, in my view, apprehensively optimistic."

The Sentinel Project, a non-profit based in Toronto, runs violence-prevention initiatives in countries that have suffered atrocities. Through its Una Hakika (roughly "Are You Sure" in Swahili) project, the group has been helping Kenyans in vulnerable areas.

Tuckwood said most foreigners have left Nairobi — along with many Kenyans of all socio-economic classes. The Red Cross in neighbouring Uganda announced Monday it had already registered "a couple of hundred" Kenyans fleeing their homeland in anticipation of violence, according to local reports.

Toronto's Andreas Katsouris, who had been working on the opposition campaign, was swarmed by a group of men on a Nairobi street on Friday. After confiscating Katsouris' cellphones and laptop, the men drove him and an American colleague to an airport where they were swiftly deported for violating their visas. Katsouris has since been reunited with his family.

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