The High Court in Mombasa has lifted the ban on the Mombasa Republican Council.
A three-judge bench consisting of Justices John Mwera, Mary Kasango and Francis Tuiyott ruled that the Gazette Notice that declared the MRC illegal was unconstitutional.
The judges advised the group to register as a political party to pursue its agenda through legal means.
And apparently alive to the fact that Kenyans may question the rationale behind their judgment, more so in the light of the group’s secession demands, the judges pointed out that secession was a weighty matter that could not be realised through the means the group was pursuing.
“There may be Kenyans who may disenchanted with the our decision. Some would see it as an endorsement to secession and dismembering of this country.
"To them we say: Secession can only be achieved by far-reaching amendment to the constitution," the judges ruled.
“Secession is a political agenda. MRC is certainly not a trade union, welfare society or a debating society. It has all the attributes of a political movement,” the judges noted.
"If MRC regards this decision as carte blance to disorder or lawlessness, then they are on their own. The court cannot mute the respondents from exercising their constitutionally ordained obligation of ensuring security for all Kenyans. Should MRC cross the line, then the State, as always can invoke the law including prevention of criminal activities.”
Contacted for comment, MRC chairman Omar Mwamnuadzi welcomed the ruling terming it unexpected.
“We are happy with the decision of the court. We were not expecting this.
“Now the leadership of MRC will go back to the members and inform them of what has happened. After that we will come up with the best way forward as to whether we will participate in the elections or not,” he said.
The ruling triggered muted applause from the group members in court but the heavy presence of policemen and the judges’ warning restricted an outpouring of excitement and celebration within the court precincts.
MRC has been pushing for the secession of the Coast region on grounds of historical injustices meted on the locals by successive governments.
The government had defended its move to proscribe the group terming MRC a threat to national security.
MRC, on the other hand, maintained that the government relied on insufficient and unsupported evidence and allegations in proscribing them.
MRC members Randu Ruwa, Robert Tukwatukwa and Nyae Ngao moved to court in 2010 challenging a gazette notice proscribing their group and want the court to prohibit the Internal Security minister from interfering with their lawful activities.
They also want the court to issue directions that will enforce the proper administration of justice in regard to their rights, which they claim have been violated.
In 2010, the Internal Security minister and the Attorney General declared the MRC, among 32 other groups, as illegal and warned the public against dealing with them.
During the submissions, State counsel Emmanuel Bitta said that MRC’s slogan ‘Pwani si Kenya’ and its agenda were detrimental to the territorial integrity of the country, hence the minister was right to outlaw the group.