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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora