By Lina Benyawa and Willis Oketch
Security, religious and election officials have identified secessionist Mombasa Republican Council’s strongholds following police raids and arrest of suspects, including children in Kaloleni District.
It is now believed MRC’s command is using sacred forests or kayas to recruit, train and indoctrinate new members on its ideology, constitution, production of fake identification papers, and drawing up of plans to get new members, including children.
The latest disclosure shows indoctrination into the illegal movement is spurred by poverty and illiteracy and has moved beyond its original Digo heartland in Kwale.
Separately in Kilifi and Kaloleni ten people, including two children, have been charged with the crime of belonging to the separatist movement, as police warned that sacred forests, which are inaccessible to State security agencies are being used as MRC hideouts.
Two children of ages 14 and 15 were charged in a Kilifi court on Tuesday evening and set free on a Sh50,000 bond. Each of them denied the charge of “belonging to an organised illegal group – namely Mombasa Republican Council”.
Reports show they were charged as adults and held in police custody for several days after being arrested spraying MRC separatist slogan —Pwani Si Kenya (Coast is not Kenya) — on an Apostolic church building.
In Kaloleni eight people were charged with joining the secessionist movement yesterday, as the Coast Province regional co-ordinator for Independent and Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Amina Soud warned on Tuesday MRC propaganda for a poll boycott was spreading and holding deep in Shika Adabu area of Msambweni in Matuga, Mlaleo in Kisauni constituencies, and Chonyi-dominated area in Kilifi County.
The State counsel told the court the decision by Ministry of Internal Security to ban the group was right. But in reply, MRC lawyer Kithi Ngombo accused the State of failing to address MRC’s complaints. He said the new Constitution allowed Kenyans to debate issues affecting them.
Amina told a forum of the Media Council of Kenya that to defeat MRC’s calls for a poll boycott, IEBC was using local leaders supportive of the election process. IEBC has also promised to involve local people as poll clerks and suppliers. But she warned that increasingly IEBC staff have had to rely on police escort to venture into the interior. She disclosed that, “in my life I had never had bodyguards, but now I have one”. She added that recently she was escorted to a function by nine trucks of armed General Service Unit officers.