By PNA / Xinhua and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Kenyan police on Thursday arrested 16 suspected members of the coast-based secessionist group, including two foreigners, in the coastal town of Kwale.
Divisional police commander Richard Mungai said the 16 members of the Mombasa Republic Council (MRC), among them a British national and a French, were arrested while holding a secret meeting at a hotel by detectives who had been trailing them.
“We are holding the 16 at Diana police station and will charge them with incitement and illegal assembly,” Mungai told Xinhua by telephone. He said the 16 were found with booklets and dairy of the MRC that is agitating for coast region to secede.
The police said the foreigners have been inciting locals and possibly funding them to attack investors who don’t hail from coastal region, an incident the police say may scare away potential investors and tourists to the East African nation.
Mungai said the 14 locals were ferried from Funzi Island in the Msambweni district and had converged with a bad intention. “They were holding secret meetings and possible to carry out retaliations attacks out attacks in the area which is MRC stronghold,” he said.
The arrest came as the cabinet reaffirmed its total commitment to the holding of peaceful, free and just elections on March 4, 2013, which the group has vowed to disrupt.
A statement issued after the cabinet meeting in Nairobi said the government directed the country’s security forces to crack down on the MRC and any other militant, criminal and terrorist elements who have threatened to disrupt the elections.
The cabinet said it is in the national interests that no grouping has any capacity to interrupt Kenya’s democratic process of elections and any one who engages in hate speech, divisive actions or criminal acts must be dealt with swiftly, firmly and decisively.
“The Cabinet directed the security forces to do all in their power to ensure that every child sits their examinations in a safe and comfortable environment,” the statement said.
The meeting which was chaired by President Mwai Kibaki also directed the security forces to ensure that national examinations that are set to begin on Monday are held in a secure environment especially in the Coast region where the MRC has threatened to disrupt the examinations.
The cabinet said proscription or re-proscription of any grouping that is a threat to national security remains an option of the government.
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 they are not Kenyans.
On Oct. 4, members of the group armed with machetes attacked and injured Kenya’s Minister for Fisheries Amason Kingi during a political rally he was addressing in the coastal town of Mtwapa, killing his bodyguard and three others.
Regional police commander Aggrey Adoli said police are pursuing top MRC leaders including the founder of the group, Omar Mwanawadzi, who has gone into hiding. The police are under firm instruction to apprehend top MRC members and their associates this week.
“We are closing on him where in his hideout in Kwale, and charge him in court of incitement and possibly treason that attracts life imprisonment,” Adoli said.
The police have been tracking MRC Secretary General Hamza Randu Nzai who was arrested on Tuesday in Mombasa. Nzai was picked by five senior police detectives at a local restaurant and driven away in two tinted cars.
Nzai told Xinhua that he was held briefly before he led detectives to his house in where they ransacked and confiscated documents. He was traced using his mobile phone after an early unsuccessful raid at his house by detectives on Monday.
Adoli said they are investigating politicians and businessmen in Mombasa who are financing the criminal gang.