NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – A day after the High Court lifted a ban on the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), the government says it is not ready to dialogue with the group.
Instead the government declared that it would hold talks with the people of the Coast region in general, not individuals or organisations.
Speaking after a day-long National Security Advisory Committee meeting at the Office of the President, Acting Internal Security Minister Yussuf Haji warned that any criminal activity by MRC members will be dealt with ruthlessly.
“There is a plan in place to talk to the people of the Coast but not to groups; the people who matter at the coast,” he said.
“I wish to take the opportunity to warn all criminal groups not to consider this ruling as a license to engage in criminal activities or a cover to perpetuate crime. They will face the full force of the law,” he insisted.
In its ruling the Mombasa court said: “If the MRC regard this decision as a carte blance order to disorder or lawlessness, then they are on their own. The court cannot mute respondents (government) from exercising their constitutionally ordained obligation of ensuring security for all Kenyans.”
The court advised MRC that the government was at liberty to invoke the law including the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act passed in 2010.
Haji who was accompanied by Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere and the AP Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua said that further action on the group will be informed by the outcome of an appeal the Government plans to lodge against the High Court ruling.
He termed Wednesday’s ruling as having ‘serious’ implications on national security expressing fears that another 32 outlawed groups might go to court with similar demands.
Separately, Prime Minister Raila Odinga called on the group to follow restrictions as ruled by the court and to use dialogue in ensuring their grievances are resolved.
“We as the Executive respect the ruling of the court, we hope that MRC and every other peace loving citizens abide by the ruling and that the rule of law guide the conduct of all of us,” said Odinga.
MRC members want separation of the coastal region from the rest of the country arguing that the area had been neglected by successive governments.
They also want to repossess land occupied by people from other communities within the county including foreigners.
The group has previously also threatened to evict people from other communities who live and work in the Coast unless their secession demands are met.
They have also threatened to boycott the next General Election and have increasingly intimidated coastal residents.
But the MRC through their lawyer Abraham Sing’oei is urging the government to stop fearing them after the court’s ruling indicated that their activities did not call for alarm.
On Wednesday a section of MP’s castigated the High Court for lifting the ban on the MRC saying that the move will lead to anarchy in the country.