By Patrick Beja and Philip Mwakio
Acting Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo has disclosed that the Government hopes to persuade MRC to abandon its crusade and tackle social and economic issues, which are behind its rise. But he added the its ban would not be lifted until MRC abandons criminal activities.
"We want to engage MRC and persuade them to abandon the course they are taking. It will not benefit them in this era, when we are going into counties, which will be competing among themselves in development," Iringo said in Mombasa on Tuesday night.
But MRC has shot back, giving its own conditions through a spokesman who told The Standard Wednesday that although the group is "prepared for talks even today" it demands the immediate lifting of the ban. It has also denied any links to crime. In recent months MRC activists have been linked to violent attacks on police and electoral officials, including snatching a gun from a policeman and threatening to disrupt the General Election in Coast Province.
Fifty-three MRC activists are facing different criminal charges in Kwale and Mombasa. And, Wednesday, several appeared at the Mombasa High Court for the mention of their cases, although MRC insists none of its members engages in violence or crime. In his statement on Tuesday, Iringo appeared to climb down from recent hard line Executive position on MRC.
He announced the Government is planning a "multi-pronged" approach to engage MRC in talks, while at the same time tackling some of the social and historical issues behind MRCâs rise, including issuance of title deeds.
Mutea did not say when talks with MRC would begin or the form they would take or the venue. But he said the group "must stop attacking police officers and grabbing guns from them for the State to make it legal."
But he said the talks would involve Coast MPs, Christian and Muslim, clerics, traditional Mijikenda Kaya elders and representatives of the youth. The PS said MRCâs demands on land and other issues could be resolved through the law and under the devolved units created by the new Constitution. Iringo said land grievances, unemployment and poor infrastructure were not confined to the Coast.
"We have an ambitious Vision 2030, which will completely change the face of Kenya. But what we need is peace to attract foreign investments," he said. He added: "The MRC was trying to hold on to issues, which are not concrete. We appeal to law abiding citizens to maintain peace."