Monday 22 October 2012

Kenyan court releases leader of secessionist group on bond

MRC Leader Mwamnuadzi
A Kenyan court on Monday released leader of the Mombasa-based secessionist group and his wife on 35,300 U.S. dollars surety bond each after being accused of possessing illegal firearms, ammunition and offensive weapons.

Omar Mwamnuadzi, who is the chairman of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), and his wife Mwaimuna Hamisi Mwavyombo are still seeking ways of raising the bond and it was highly unlikely that they would raise it based on the current trend.The prosecutor, State Counsel George Mureithi, while opposing an application for Mwamnuadz's bond submitted by lawyer Ananiah Mwaboza, said the situation on the ground was volatile and the accused should not be released."It is for their own safety that the accused should be remanded and again, they would cause more grievous damage if released," he added.

Mwamunuadzi and his wife were charged separately on Oct. 15 with six counts of possession of fire arms, possession of ammunition, possession of offensive weapons
among them, four bottles of petrol bombs, three Swahili swords, six knives, four arrows, two bows, two Maasai swords, one spear and eight machetes.In the fourth count, the two were charged with incitement to violence as they were found in possession of T-shirts branded with Pwani si Kenya (Coast is not Kenya), Nchi Mpya Maisha, Mapya (New country, new life).

In the other two counts, Mwamunuadzi and his wife were also charged with incitement to violence on grounds that they were found in possession of an MRC pamphlet.
They were further charged with possession of articles usually used in exercise of witchcraft.The incident comes as the police have intensified crackdown on members of the secessionist group following a spate of insecurity incident across the coastal city. They are searching for members of the MRC who attacked and killed a government official in Kwale town in retaliation for the arrest of their Chairman Omar Mwamnwadzi on Oct. 15.

The police said they are following crucial leads to bring to book those involved in the killing of an assistant chief in Kwale in what appeared to be a retaliatory attack. One of the MRC officials, Omar Suleiman Babu alias Bambam surrendered himself at the police, a few days after a warrant of arrest was issued against him and other
officials. He was to be charged in court with being a member of an unlawful society, contrary to the laws of Kenya. "I have surrendered since a warrant of arrest is out for me, yet I have always been at home, walking freely, and now instead of waiting for the worst, I would rather present myself here," Bambam said when he presented himself to the police. "I have not been able to see my friends, I have tried reaching them but they are not available," he added.

The group has been agitating for secession and has vowed that no elections will take place in the Coast region where they are based, saying that they are not Kenyans.In court, Mwaboza had submitted last time that the affidavit used by the prosecutor that the members were of the MRC group and if that was true, the group has been
legalized."The prosecution did not mention where the guns that were alleged were found. I also urge the court to disregard media information that an assistant chief was
murdered, and if that was the truth, the accused are already in custody," he added.

 The magistrate, while noting that the right to bail can only be opposed in extreme cases, said the accused had a right to be released. He also directed that the duo be reporting to the nearest police station every Monday at 8:00 a.m. local time. In another application, Mwaboza said one of the 38 MRC suspects, Said Bakari Katum, is a candidate, who is sitting his secondary school examinations and wanted an order to be issued that he be released on free bond. The magistrate directed that he sits for his examination at the Shimo La Tewa High School.

Meanwhile, Muslims for Human Rights Executive Director, Khalid Hussein, has been summoned to appear before the police on Tuesday and record his statement over
remarks he made on media, to the effect that since the MRC was a legal group, anyone who is willing can seek to assist them on bond. "I had said that if anyone is willing but is afraid, they can contact us as a human rights body to see how we could best assists. I will meet the police tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00 p.m.," he added.

The East African nation is grappling with the MRC, a secessionist group pushing for the breakaway of the coastal region. The group cites neglect by Kenya's successive governments and land alienation as their reasons for seeking secession. Mombasa, the country's second largest city and a major tourist spot is one of various cities targeted by a series of grenade attacks and abduction of foreigners in recent months.

Kenya's tourism industry has suffered a decline the number of tourists arriving since September 2011 when the Somali militant group, the Al-Shabaab, carried out the
kidnappings of tourists in the Lamu archipelago and the kidnapping of the Spanish volunteers.  The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia a year ago  to try to pursue Al-Shabaab insurgents it blames for a surge in violence and kidnappings threatening tourism. (Xinhua)

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