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.
x
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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid