News / Africa

    Secessionist Leader Arrest Raises Tensions in Kenya

    Omar Mwamnuadzi (C), leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council shown at a Kenyan prison with members of the group, October 15, 2012.
    Omar Mwamnuadzi (C), leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council shown at a Kenyan prison with members of the group, October 15, 2012.
    Tension is high in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, after police arrested the leader of a secessionist group - the Mombasa Republic Council.  Local rights groups say the government's action could backfire because the secessionists are winning increasing support from people in the region. 

    In a dawn raid, Kenyan police arrested Omar Mwamnuadzi, the leader of the Mombasa Republic Council. Two of his bodyguards were shot dead, and police arrested 38 of his followers who were stationed around his home.

    According to a regional police officer, Aggrey Adoli, the arrest of Mwamnuadzi sparked tension in the city, leading to the death of a local chief.

    “The situation on the ground is that these people are real militias, because you realize that after we had arrested the chairman and the other people, some of the remnants of the MRC went for the life of a chief," said Adoli. "They went and hacked their assistant chief to death and right now we are also investigating that murder so that we can be able to arrest the culprits.”

    The Mombasa Republic Council has been advocating for the secession of coastal region, an area well known for its safaris and tropical beaches.

    The group bases its position on what it terms historical injustices that revolve around land and unfair distribution of national resources.    

    Decades of corruption in Kenya have kept the ruling elite enormously wealthy and majority appallingly poor.  The country’s political volatility, highlighted by the post-election violence of 2008, gives more fuel to groups like the Mombasa Republic Council.

    But the group has been associated with violence, most recently the attack on a government minister in which four people were killed, including minister’s bodyguard.  

    Francis Auma of Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) said in an interview with VOA that the government is blaming the group for all bad activities in the region.

    “We [MUHURI] are not for violence. Us, we are for the legal way," Auma insisted.  "If there is problem let these people be arrested and taken to court but this not MRC.  Anything that happens here just normal thuggery.  They say it is MRC.  They are just branding."

    The government has banned the Mombasa Republic Council, but in late July, three High Court judges ruled that outlawing the group was unconstitutional and said the state had failed to prove the ban was justifiable and proportionate.

    The court recommended the group to register as political party since their grievances are political.  But the group has refused to follow that direction.

    Auma said the government wants to create fear and tension so people will be afraid of the group.

    Last week, seven MRC leaders including spokesman Mohamed Mraja were arrested and charged with incitement to violence.

    According to Auma, police are arresting youths and planting pamphlets, which have MRC slogans, and later charging them with incitement.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Salim from: Nairobi
    October 16, 2012 7:17 AM
    There is no tension as you put it, the guy got what he deserves, i congratulate the police for a "job well done", this is a free country we shall not entertain intolerance

    by: Paul Gesimba from: Nairobi
    October 16, 2012 3:27 AM
    The MRC is behaving like an outlawed sect or militia group like the IRA or the Spanish separatists while the whole World is moving towards becoming a global village .If they have any genuine grievances they should forward them using the normal laid down channels or form a political party to agitate for their rights .Otherwise acts of violence will only hurt their cause

    by: musawi melake
    October 15, 2012 6:06 PM
    If the Scots can have an opportunity, or rather exercise their right to self determination, then why can't the others have the same, or are they inferior just because they don't live in Europe or North America? If it's the people that are sovereign, they under the same principle the people should be allowed to voice their view. Some countries call themselves democracies, such as India, but their constitution forbids even speaking about secession!

    by: ahmed hassan from: mombasa
    October 15, 2012 1:58 PM
    Your article is very biased because as person in Mombasa no tension after the arrest of the self declared president of MRC as there is alot of support from peace loving kenyans as witnessed on twitter and online websites.MRC is predominantly of muslims of Digo Community and has Al shabab simpathisers.Your reporter failed to state that an Assistant chief was murdered in revenge attack an act wich border terrorism .The poverty in coast is caused by rejection of christian model of education and preference of islamic education which the communities embraced before independence and taking of land by rich Arabs. Kindly correct the facts

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora