MRC’s calls of secession completely illegal
“Pwani Si Kenya” is a call that first made its debut during the violent clashes at the coast in 1997. At the time, people perceived to be from “bara” or upcountry were targeted, attacked, raped and looted by criminals under the pretext that the “wabara” were responsible for the underdevelopment and socio-economic challenges faced by people at the coast.
The repeat attacks on Kenyans from upcountry in the 2007/08 post election violence saw a resurgence of a more vocal and certainly more violent call to secede by certain members of the coast community. It is from this violent background that the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) emerged, with its now famous slogan, “Pwani Si Kenya.”
The MRC’s basis for secession is claims to historical injustices, land rights issues, and matters of control of the port at Mombasa. Much as those claims may have a legitimate founding in the need to address the concerns of the people of the coast, MRC has chosen a path that is in no way acceptable to the Nation of Kenya.
Firstly, the desire to secede contravenes the Supreme law of Kenya and is an assault on the integrity of the Nation as a whole. Article 2 emphasizes the supremacy of the constitution, “2 (1) – This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic and binds all persons and all State organs at both levels of government.”
The claim, “Pwani Si Kenya” further assaults the tenets of the Kenya Constitution as regards the Territory of Kenya, which states – “Kenya consists of the territory and territorial waters comprising Kenya on the effective date, and any additional territory and territorial waters as defined by an Act of Parliament.”
MRC’s claims over the land and territory of the coast are not just an assault on the Constitution of Kenya but also an assault on the rights of every Kenyan citizen. Article 61 (1) is clear – “All land in Kenya belongs to the people of Kenya collectively as a nation, as communities and as individuals.”
Secondly, no claim to historical injustices is unique in Kenya. Were all groups claiming historical injustices to turn to secession as an option, Kenya would disintegrate into a lawless land of clan warlords, much like Somalia. The Constitution again provides mechanisms to address such claims of historical land injustices in the National Land Commission. Article 67 (e) confirms this function of the National Land Commission – “to initiate investigations, on its own initiative or on a complaint, into present or historical land injustices and recommend appropriate redress.”
Thirdly, the claims of historical injustices among others by the MRC already have a platform where they can be addressed in the form of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Have the MRC and its supporters made any effort to approach these already available platforms for their concerns to be addressed? I propose that the TJRC has its term extended even further to ensure that such claims can be truly presented.
Members of MRC and their supporters in essence do not cease to be Kenyan Citizens by breaking the law or making declarations of secession. Indeed, it is a rather ridiculous stand to take, when only 2 years ago; Kenyan citizens across the country went to referendum to vote in the Constitution. By that one democratic act, those members of the coast community claiming “Pwani Si Kenya” endorsed the Supremacy of the Constitution to govern them as part of the Territory of Kenya whether they voted or not. Subsequent acts of violence intended to disrupt the activities of the IEBC in the electoral process at the coast, is not only disingenuous, it’s criminal and should be dealt with as such. Certainly we cannot have people in this country attacking fellow citizens because of “historical injustices”, that is utter lunacy.
President Mwai Kibaki was astutely correct in proscribing the MRC. Neither should he or any other political aspirant attempt to engage MRC in any sort of discussions concerning their claims, such overtures in themselves are a treacherous act towards the nation of Kenya. We cannot, in any way, entertain any individual or group that attempts to subvert the supremacy of the constitution of Kenya, or the integrity of our national territory for any reason whatsoever, legitimate claims or not. Indeed, in Kenya, such traitors should be incarcerated without question. In other countries, traitors are shot.
If the MRC were genuine in their cause to seek a correction of historical injustices meted upon them, as well as their claim to secession, they should begin their litigation process by going to the International Court of Justice and suing the British Government, just as the Mau Mau Veterans Association have gone to the Royal Courts of Justice and sued the British Government. I believe the MRC would lose such a case anyway, as the Mau Mau Veterans are suing the British government for war crimes sanctioned under the various Geneva Conventions, while MRC has no actionable cause.
As it stands, in the interest of National Security, MRC is an outlawed group, whose activities should not only be closely monitored, but they should face the law, and be made accountable for crimes they have committed.