Kilifi county leaders have warned the government against using the MRC tag to victimize innocent residents.
Speaking during the Madaraka day celebrations at Karisa Maitha grounds in Kilifi on Saturday, Kilifi county governor Amason Kingi said MRC are now and do not engage in guerilla warfare.
“Mombasa Republican Council is known and it is not a prescribed group. The leaders are known and they have been using legal means including the courts in pursuit of their agenda. If there are criminal elements deal with them as criminals and not branding people as MRC,” said Kingi
The governor accused the police of profiling the Mijikenda by virtue of their mode of dressing.
He said most police officers are associating the Mijikenda attire with MRC.
“If donning the Mijikenda traditional attire means one is a member of MRC then all the mijikendas are members of MRC because that is our mode of dressing. We feel so bad when our elders are harassed when they are seen in the traditional regalia,” said Kingi
Last week several people were arrested in Kilifi and Kaloleni on suspicion of being members of the MRC.
Kingi said the Mijikenda feel undermined and their culture threatened due to the rampant raids in Kaya forests.
He warned the police against arbitrary arrests in the name of dealing with MRC.
“We have had several groups in the coast region. People have been clobbered and arrested but it has not helped. If you want to deal with MRC the best way is to address their grievances which are well known. Arresting and killing people will not wipe MRC because MRC is not a group but an idea. You can kill people but not an idea,” added Kingi
Kilifi north MP Owen Baya said the tag is being used by the police to oppress the Mijikenda community.
“MRC are not in Kaya forests. I know most of the police officers have been trained on respecting the culture and traditions of the community they work in. as the Mijikenda we are not happy with how our culture is being violated by attacking elders found in Kaya forests going about their businesses. We demand respect,” said Baya
Kilifi senator Stewart Madzayo said Kaya elders while in the forest will always carry pangas or a knife.
“This does not mean these people are training to fight. There are so many uses of a panga not just killing people. Most of the elders are weak to fight. They are the custodians of our traditions and they should be left to practice freely.