A Kenyan governor was charged with murder Thursday in connection with recent attacks in his constituency that the government says were politically motivated.
Opposition parties say the governor's arrest will worsen political tensions.
A court in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa has charged the governor of Lamu County, Issa Timamy, with murder, terrorism and the forcible transfer of people.
The arrest follows multiple, coordinated attacks by gunmen in the town of Mpeketoni this month that have left at least 60 people dead.
Mombasa police chief Robert Kitur told VOA that criminal investigators recommended the charges against the governor and a host of others arrested for involvement in the attacks.
“The suspects are being treated as suspects," he said. "And maybe they aided or they performed, or maybe they facilitated the movement of raiders.”
The Somali Islamist terrorist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for attacks in Mpeketoni, in which assailants allegedly targeted non-Muslims as they laid siege to the town.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the attack was not the work of terrorists, but of an unnamed political network.
Kenya's Interior Ministry says that, in addition to the governor, another 13 people suspected of belonging to a coastal separatist group called the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) were also arrested Wednesday in connection with the violence.
But Kitur says there is “no conclusive proof” that MRC members were involved in the attacks.
Governor Timamy belongs to the United Democratic Forum (UDF) political party and received backing from the opposition CORD coalition during his election last year.
UDF party leader Musalia Mudavadi, speaking to reporters in Nairobi Thursday, condemned what he called the “inhuman treatment” of the governor, who was taken by truck overnight from Lamu to Mombasa.
"We want Governor Issa Timamy to be released,” Mudavadi said, “and if it's about investigations - investigations should be done in a respectful manner.”
In a statement, Mudavadi said Timamy is being victimized as part of a larger scheme by local authorities to cover up corrupt land transactions.
The charges against the governor come as the opposition CORD coalition plans a series of rallies across Kenya to call for a national dialogue, despite orders from the police to cancel the events.