News / Africa

MRC Chairman Released From Kenya Prison

Omar Mwamnuadzi (C), leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) arrives at the law court cells with members of the group at Kenya's Coastal region October 15, 2012.Omar Mwamnuadzi (C), leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) arrives at the law court cells with members of the group at Kenya's Coastal region October 15, 2012.
Omar Mwamnuadzi (C), leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) arrives at the law court cells with members of the group at Kenya's Coastal region October 15, 2012.
Omar Mwamnuadzi (C), leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) arrives at the law court cells with members of the group at Kenya's Coastal region October 15, 2012.
Roopa Gogineni
Two leading members of a secessionist group in coastal Kenya are expected to be released Thursday from prison. The group's chairman has already been released.

Freedom for Mombasa Republican Council Secretary-General Randu Nzai Ruwa and Spokesman Mohammed Rashid Mraja was secured after Kenyan parliamentarian Mike Sonko paid the bond to secure their release.

Omar Mwamnuadzi, the MRC chairman, was released on Monday with his wife and two children.

MRC members imprisoned

The secessionist leaders have been in the Shimo la Tewa prison since October 15, when Kenyan police conducted an operation arresting 38 alleged MRC members.

Mwanahalima Bakari, a daughter of Mwamnuadzi, was at home during the police raid.  

"They fired several bullets. They were aiming at people, even those walking outside our house as it was almost morning. They even killed some people," she said.
Nearly one month later, supporters of the separatist group gathered in a covered alleyway, awaiting news of their leaders' release from prison.   

"To release them, that is good. Whatever we are doing here is advocating for peace and they are very good people to advocate for peace here," said Jimmy, a senior MRC official.

Land, unemployment issues

The MRC movement has found widespread support by articulating grievances about land and unemployment. On the coast, these issues cut across class, ethnic and religious lines.

The group cites the January 2013 expiration of a 50-year lease of the coast to Kenyan state, signed by the sultan of Zanzibar and Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, as grounds for secession. The Kenyan government does not recognize the document, however, and has cracked down on what they call a criminal organization.
Jimmy fears the government’s response could radicalize the group.

"As time elapses, then our youth will become furious, which we don't want," he said. "But, if they persist, this will be the case. It comes to a time where all of the leaders of this group will be arrested. Now, who will stop these youth from violence? Nobody."

Government's concerns

Although the MRC preaches peace, the government has accused the group of being a threat to national security. Last month, President Mwai Kibaki promised to take “firm and decisive action” against the group.

Coast Province Police Chief Aggrey Adoli is in charge of suppressing the threat.

"If the members of the MRC had a genuine cause to advance they could gather together, appoint a person who carries their ideology, who knows their grievances, elect him to the parliament, elect him to be the governor, elect one again to be senator and let them have all of the representative because they have got the ground," said Adoli. "But, when they opted to arming themselves, it became a national threat to security and that is why we resorted to allaying them in court."
Now, with less than four months remaining until general elections, concerns surround the group’s capacity to interfere with voter registration, set to begin in the coming weeks.

Questions around militarization

Despite police allegations, Abdullahi Halakhe, the Kenya analyst at the International Crisis Group, does not believe the MRC is militarized. But he said this could change.

"The most pressing issue right now is the capacity of this group to cause violence between now and elections and that they do," said Halakhe. "I am not convinced they actually have the capacity to secede. What I’m more and more worried about is the group’s capacity to cause violence before elections."

Halakhe pointed to two pending court cases that could further aggravate tensions between the MRC and the Kenyan state. In one, the government seeks to reinstate a ban on the group lifted in July. In the other, the MRC contests the authority of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to carry out elections in Coast Province. The rulings are expected in mid-December.

You May Like

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs