Kenya Separatist Leader Charged for Illegal Assembly, Possession

A Kenyan court charged a leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council and six of its members with unlawful assembly to plan attacks and belonging to an outlawed group.

MRC Chairman Omar Mwamnuadzi is also facing charges of marijuana possession, MRC Secretary-General Randu Nzai Ruwa said today by phone from the port city of Mombasa. They all denied the charges and were released on bail, Rua said.

“Mwamnuadzi’s wife, who had been among those arrested, was released without charge as police said she had been mistakenly detained,” he said.

The MRC, which has been banned by the government, wants independence for Kenya’s coastal region. Foreign governments including the U.K. have advised their nationals to avoid parts of Kenya’s coast after a spate of attacks mostly blamed on al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, al-Shabaab.

Last week, 10 members of the MRC were charged with murder in connection to the killing of a Kenyan police officer in an attack on a camp in the coastal area of Kilifi last month. Forty-three other members were charged for belonging to an illegal group.

Ruwa said harassment by the government is forcing a violent response.

‘We have always used peaceful methods and all our cases including a demand for a referendum are before court,’’ he said. “This harassment is driving members into using violence.”