News / Africa

MRC Not Expected to Disrupt Kenya Voting

Mombasa Republican Council supporters in Likoni, Mombasa, Kenya, February 21, 2013. (VOA/J. Craig)Mombasa Republican Council supporters in Likoni, Mombasa, Kenya, February 21, 2013. (VOA/J. Craig)
Mombasa Republican Council supporters in Likoni, Mombasa, Kenya, February 21, 2013. (VOA/J. Craig)
Mombasa Republican Council supporters in Likoni, Mombasa, Kenya, February 21, 2013. (VOA/J. Craig)
Jill Craig
The Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which has previously threatened a coastal boycott of the March 4 Kenyan elections, is not expected to disrupt next week’s polling, but the extent to which its supporters will participate in the process remains in question.

In 2010, the MRC was deemed a criminal gang and banned by the Kenyan government. That ban was lifted in July 2012. However, in October, Kenyan police arrested the MRC's leader, as well as its spokesman and other supporters, accusing them of plotting to disrupt school examinations.  

As a secessionist group, the MRC wants to form its own country, saying the coastal region is a cash cow for the rest of Kenya because of the revenue generated from the Mombasa port and lucrative tourism industry. MRC supporters point to their own unemployment, lack of education and land grievances, and argue that their demands are justified.

Because of these issues, MRC supporters have, until recently, said that they would encourage coastal residents to boycott the elections, a troublesome prospect for electoral officials who have been working to increase voter registration, prevent technical glitches, avoid violence and instill general public confidence in the elections.  
Amina Hussein Soud, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission elections coordinator for the southwest coast region, says she's not worried about the MRC causing trouble, because many supporters have registered to vote and some are even running for office.

"We urged them, on registration, and almost 80 percent of them registered…I urged them to be a part of the leadership so they went on and vied," she says. "So now, some of them are aspirants. So if they are aspirants, why would they fight us? They are a part of the game now, you see?”

Despite these developments, Soud confirms that top MRC leader Omar Mwamnuadzi and his spokesman, Mohammed Rashid Mraja, are not registered to vote.

“The two of them refused because they were saying that they are still taking us to court [so] they cannot go bend to that," she says. "But the rest of them did because I remember registering a person from Taita and [he] was the chairman of the MRC in Taita. I registered the chairman of Kisauni…so I’ve registered most of them and I believe that these people will want to use their votes.”

However, there are some MRC supporters who aren't interested in using their votes.

Ali Mbwana Mwatebe is one of them. As chairman of the MRC branch in Likoni, located near the Mombasa ferry, Mwatebe says he was one of the MRC supporters arrested last October.

Although he refuses to participate in the upcoming elections, he is adamant that he and his colleagues are not looking for problems.  

"Our aim is not to disrupt the elections, but these councilors vying for the seats are the ones spreading propaganda that the MRC is not together with this exercise, which we have on the fourth," says Mwatebe. "With us, we are for peace. We are not ready to cause any disturbance.

But he reiterates that the MRC’s goals remain the same, to secede from Kenya.

"We want to separate ourselves from Kenya," he said through an interpreter. "We want an independent Pwani, coastal region, but it should follow the right channels, not war.  We are not ready for any war. What we want is to have our own coastal region in peace."

According to Soud, there are 699,700 registered voters in the counties of Kwale, Mombasa and Taita Taveta, which have been considered MRC stronghold areas.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs