Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - The leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), who has been seeking the secession of the coastal region, was arrested and charged with incitement to violence on Monday.
Mohamed Mrajah, the spokesman of the MRC, surrendered to the police after evading an early sting operation to nab him and his group after the government issued orders for the elimination of criminal gangs across the country.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga supported the new drive by the security forces to launch an operation to wipe out criminal gangs.
"We are saying those taking part in the violence must be arrested," Odinga said in Nairobi after visiting Mombasa politician Stewart Madzayo, who was injured in Mtwapa, 14 km outside Mombasa city.
Madzayo, a senate candidate, is still nursing head injury wounds sustained during an attack on Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi, which killed his bodyguard and four others last week. MRC officials have denied involvement in the violence.
Mrajah said his group did not advocate violence, but was determined to fight for the rights of the coast residents, whose rights to land and other resources had been violated.
Odinga said a government expert panel would be set up to investigate the emergence of criminal gangs across the country and recommend ways of dealing with them in due course.
"It looks to me like there are people who want to disrupt the elections and the registration of voters especially in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) zones so that people cannot register and eventually vote," Odinga said.
The government has been criticised for failing to bring the armed gangs (to book). After a weekend of intense media criticism, the government promised to act.
"This operation will continue until we get all those people spreading hate speech," Coast Provincial Police Chief Aggrey Adoli told journalists.
Police arrested five other members of the group, who would be charged in court on Tuesday. Mrajah was freed on a US$24 million bond.
Kenya's top internal security official Mutea Iringo, said the crackdown against criminal gangs would also target politicians. "We shall not allow anybody to incite others," said.
Police said those arrested during an operation against the group would be taken to courts in the coast province
"We netted about five and the others netted will appear in court in Kwale and Kilifi," Adoli said.
-0- PANA AO/MA 8Oct2012