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‘Gang’ seeks ‘independence’ for Mombasa from Kenya

By | Updated Mon, November 22nd 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

By NGUMBAO KITHI

Their claims are the kind of stuff that causes civil war.

Yet, Mombasa Republican Council, one of the 33 gangs the Government outlawed recently, says it wants part of the coastal region to secede.

Established in 1999, the organisation claims the Coast was not part of Kenya. Similar claims by the shifta (Somali militia) who wanted to secede parts of North Eastern Province led to armed confrontations in which scores were killed in the 1960s.

According to a four-page document by the organisation seen by The Standard, and interviews with its officials, the group is seeking self-rule, although it claims it does not support use of violence.

Mombasa Republican Council Secretary-General Hamza Randu (left) and other officials after a meeting in Mombasa recently.

However, sources say another group, the Kaya Bombo, is the council’s military wing, which should be handled with caution.

Kaya Bombo is an outfit of hundreds of youth, who are armed with an assortment of weapons, and operate from forests. The gang struck with deadly force during the 1999 Likoni clashes in which hundreds of people were killed.

Mombasa Republican Council Secretary-General Hamza Randu says the group draws its claims from an agreement between Great Britain and Zanzibar more than a century ago under the supervision of Sultan Seyyid Hemed Bin Twain, Queen Victoria and the British Government.

Mr Randu says Mombasa was to remain a protectorate under the British Government after consultation with the sultan.

The ruler allowed the British Government to administer Mombasa for its political and business activities.

Randu says the agreement stipulated that the sovereignty of the Sultan should be maintained.

He says before Kenya regained its independence, talks on whether or not to change the 1895 agreement arose.

Representatives from the Coast and other delegates met at Lancaster House in 1962 to discuss on independence.

politically mature

Mwambao United Front group from Mombasa was among the other delegations that participated in the talks.

The Lancaster talks resulted in the formation of the first federal of constitution and agreements.

According to Randu the 1963 agreement integrated Mombasa as an independent region in the broader Kenya.

Randu claims whatever was agreed upon would not be changed without the approval of the people from the protectorate.

He says the Government disregarded the agreements at the expense of the former protectorate.

"We are not rebels, we are fighting for our country, Mombasa," says Randu.

He says although they are capable of sacrificing their lives, time and money, they do not support use of violence to attain their objectives.

Randu alleges Mombasa was an autonomous entity with the ability to form a government.

"We are now economically and politically mature and capable to self-governance. We no longer need the protection by the Kenya Government that was inherited from the colonial British," he says.

He says the Mombasa Republican Council duly served the Government letters addressed to President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Attorney General Amos Wako in 2005 and earlier this year.

The letters contain claims of the region’s independence from Kenya.

However, the Government did not reply.

"We use the madrassa, churches, open places to speak to marginalised people. We have branches in nearly all the six counties at the Coast," Randu told The Standard.