MRC in new bid to block polls in Coast despite voter registration

By David Ochami

The separatist Mombasa Republican Council MRC has said there will be no elections in Coast Province although close to a million people have registered to participate in the March 4 2012 polls.

On Tuesday, MRC spokesman Rashid Mraja declared those who have registered in the region as “traitors of Coast Province.”

Top separatist leaders, who were  recently freed on bond after being charged with incitement, have refused to register to vote and called for a poll boycott. They have also insisted that  Coast Province should secede.

On Tuesday, a court in Mombasa postponed a ruling in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission IEBC has objected to a suit filed by the MRC challenging the preparation and holding of elections in the province.

The IEBC announced last evening that close to a million people in the province have registered to vote including from MRC’s Kwale stronghold, but Mraja declared this  is not a guarantee there will be elections in Coast.

“Registration of voters is not the same as voting,” said Mraja and added that he and key top separatist leaders have not registered as voters.

“I am not registered and will not register. There is no MRC leader who has registered,” said Mraja.

 chanting youths

After leaving court, Mraja who is also a Muslim preacher, waded into a crowd of chanting youthful supporters of the MRC and addressed them. He denounced those who have registered in Coast Province and added that MRC will not be party to next year’s polls.

“In Coast Province, we will not vote. We are saying there will be no vote in Coast. Those who have registered (to vote) are traitors of Coast Province,” said Mraja.

Earlier, Mraja had argued that even if the court dismisses MRC suit against IEBC, they will  appeal the ruling to have the polls suspended.

Led by its  Secretary General Hamza Randu , MRC has filed a petition in court seeking orders to stop IEBC from conducting polls in Coast.

In response to their suit, IEBC filed a pre–liminary objection, arguing the organisation had no legal rights to stop the IEBC from conducting the General Election.

The decision to deliver the ruling tomorrow was communicated to the public by the Constitutional Court Judges  Justices Edward Mureithi,  Francis Tuiyot and Richard Mwongo.

Justice Mureithi said the court was unable to deliver its ruling yesterday because it had  not finalised writing the judgment as  there was a power black out.

“We are unable to deliver the ruling today because there was no power to enable us finalise  the ruling” said justice Mureithi.