, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 18 – The government now says it will finalise the deportation of controversial Jamaican cleric Abdullah al-Faisal by Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told reporters on the sidelines of the MPs’ retreat in Naivasha that two countries – which he did not name – had moved to assist Kenya deport the cleric.
"It\’s too early to give the final details but we are in the process of deporting the Jamaican preacher within forty-eight hours," he said.
Al-Faisal, who is on a global terror watchlist and served four years in a British jail for inciting racial hatred, has been in Kenyan custody for more than a week after the authorities tried and failed to deport him.
The preacher who is 45, was arrested in Britain in 2003 after spending years urging his audiences to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners.
Kenya\’s attempts to deport the cleric, first to Tanzania and then to Gambia, have failed due to the refusal by authorities and airlines to grant him entry.
The latest move to deport Al-Faisal came as Kenyan police detained 300 Somali immigrants as tension mounted between the authorities and the nation\’s Muslim minority following a deadly protest last week.
The elite paramilitary General Service Unit and the anti-terrorism police raided Nairobi\’s Eastleigh neighbourhood late on Sunday and detained people said to be illegal Somali immigrants.
"Those arrested are in the country illegally, they had no valid documents," a senior police officer said. "They are being detained in various police stations as investigations into their stay in Kenya continue."
On Friday, hundreds of Muslim youths demonstrated after Friday prayers in and around Nairobi\’s main mosque compound, clashing with police as they demanded the release of the controversial Jamaican imam.
Five people died and several were wounded during running street battles that lasted hours and during which police fired live rounds and tear gas.
The police sweep in Eastleigh – Nairobi\’s main Somali neighbourhood – followed claims by the government that Somalia\’s hardline Islamist Shabaab group had infiltrated the demonstration.
"The security operation is part of the investigation going on after Friday\’s demonstrations by Muslim youths in the city centre," the senior police official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Kenya’s Internal Security Minister George Saitoti alleged that Somalia\’s Al Qaeda-linked Shabaab movement was involved in the demonstration.
Another demonstration demanding the release of Abdullah al-Faisal was being planned by Muslim groups for Friday after prayers in Mombasa, the heart of Kenya\’s Muslim community.
The leader of the Mombasa Muslim Youths organisation, Sheikh Abubakari Ahmed, promised that the protest would be peaceful and said that he had notified the police.
"The demonstration would start after the Friday afternoon prayers at the famous Makadara ground to the Coast provincial commissioner\’s headquarters to present the government with a memorandum," he said.
Mombasa police chief Tom Odera denied the authorisation and vowed to crush any attempt to hold the protest regardless.
"The police would deal ruthlessly with any one breaking the law," he said.