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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More