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MOMBASA, Kenya: Kenya yesterday told members of a separatist group to surrender or face arrest as the east African country intensified a crackdown on the movement ahead of an election next year.
The Mombasa Republican Council’s (MRC) campaign for the secession of Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastal strip, a tourist hotspot and trade hub, is just one of many concerns ahead of the March election, the first since the 2007 vote after which some 1,200 people were killed and thousands were displaced.
“I am asking all MRC officials and members who are still out there to surrender voluntarily and also surrender their weapons this weekend,” Coast province commissioner Samuel Kielele said at a gathering for national day celebrations in Mombasa.
“We know them and we will go for them if they don’t heed this call. We will go for them and arrest them,” he said.
President Mwai Kibaki also said his government would take decisive action against those who “issued threats of secession or those who threaten our security”.
Earlier this week, Kenyan police arrested MRC leader Omar Mwamnuadzi and later charged him with possession of firearms and incitement to violence. A Kenyan court also charged a lawmaker and prominent Muslim preacher for inciting violence after he said he would be willing to fund the group.
A Mombasa court issued arrest warrants on Friday for five MRC officials for failing to appear in court to answer charges of being members of an unlawful society.
MRC’s grievances stem from what it calls decades of social and economic marginalisation of the people in the coastal region of Kenya, east Africa’s largest economy. REUTERS