MPs Set to Meet Banned MRC

Written By Michael Maunda on Monday, June 18, 2012 | 1:28 PM

Two parliamentary committees have met Coast MPs to lay the ground for talks with the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council.

This follows an order by House Speaker Kenneth Marende to the House National Security and Equal Opportunity committees to look into grievances of the outlawed group.

The secessionist group has threatened to disrupt the 2013 General Election in the region.
Despite the talks initiative, however, MRC spokesman Mohammed Rashid Mraja on Monday reiterated the group’s position against any dialogue until the ban imposed on it is lifted.

“We shall only be available for any deliberation with the government once the illegal tag is removed. We have no problem meeting anybody in the government once that is done,” said Mr Mraja.

He added: “MRC leadership does not dispute the idea of having talks with the government but worldwide, there is no government that talks to outlawed groups,” he said.

Two months ago, a mock election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in Malindi town was disrupted after a group linked to MRC invaded a polling station.
A policeman was injured and his gun stolen in the incident. 

A few days later, a gang set ablaze a vehicle that electoral officials had hired for civic education in Kilifi town.

Mr Marende ordered the inquiry last month after United Democratic Front and Orange Democratic Movement MPs separately filed motions to set up an ad hoc committee to look into MRC grievances.

But the Speaker rejected the move saying Parliament already had committees to address the matter.

On Monday, Nominated MP Sheikh Mohammed Dor said the committees met eight Coast MPs in Nairobi  last week ahead of plans to meet members of the outlawed group.

“We told the committees that the issues raised by MRC were genuine and we fully support them because this group is non-violent contrary to condemnation from some quarters,” said Sheikh Dor.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting he described as charged, were land problems, unemployment and unfair distribution of resources.  

Sheikh Dor said MPs from Taita Taveta raised the issue that “62 per cent of land in the county belongs to national parks with the rest is owned by an influential family”. 

He said Coast MPs asked the House teams to push for the decriminalisation of MRC before engaging them in any negotiations. 

They should also convince MRC that the 1963 Lancaster agreement between the British, the Sultan of Zanzibar and the Kenyan government on the coastal strip will not expire next year as the group is claiming.

“Once those issues are addressed, we are sure they will meet members of the group,” said Sheikh Dor.

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