Kaya elders on Wednesday asked the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) to drop the secession talk.
The Mijikenda elders, who are revered by the community and looked upon for social, political and spiritual direction, further warned the outlawed group against causing chaos ahead of the next election.
Their spokesman, Mr Joseph Karisa Mwarandu, said though some of the MRC grievances were genuine, they would not tolerate chaos, murder and disruption of peace ahead of the poll.
“We support their grievances fully, but we are opposed to the methods they are using to achieve their demands. We abhor violence, murder or disruption of peace before and during the election,” Mr Mwarandu said after a meeting attended by more than 200 elders in Malindi.
Elders, he said, were opposed to secession talk as it was retrogressive.
The elders condemned the disruption of a mock election at St Andrew’s Primary School in Malindi last week by suspected MRC members.
An Administration Police officer was injured and his gun stolen in the chaos.
“The elders unanimously agreed that there will be voting in the Coast region,” said Mr Mwarandu, who is also a lawyer and secretary of the Malindi District Cultural Association.
But in a swift response, the MRC dismissed the elders as ignorant of MRC ideologies and objectives.
“We are not fighting for land alone but a range of historical injustices. Imagine Mombasa is the second city in the region from Nairobi and yet its roads have been neglected and left to the dogs. We don’t have a public university, a national school and have been deliberately marginalised for ever. That is why we want our own independent state so that we can manage our own resources and decide our destiny,” MRC spokesman Mohamed Rashid Mraja said.
The MRC has been campaigning against Coast residents taking part in the General Election on the grounds that the region should be autonomous. Its slogan is “Pwani si Kenya” (Coast is not in Kenya).
The elders agreed to hold joint peace meetings in all the nine Kayas, starting June.
“The other aim of the programme is to urge the Mijikenda community to go back to its roots in order to rediscover its identity,” the spokesman said.
This came as the ultimatum to the MRC to surrender the gun stolen last week expired.
The police and provincial administrators have been stunned by the rising cases of attacks by the MRC since January. One officer has been killed, four others injured and three firearms and an unknown number of ammunitions stolen in three attacks.
But the MRC has denied involvement in the attacks at Majengo Mapya in Likoni District, Chanagande police camp in Kaloleni and Kisumu Ndogo area in Malindi.
During the Likoni attack, two police officers on patrol were attacked with crude weapons and two firearms with 50 rounds of ammunition stolen. One of the officers later died from the injuries.
Early this month, two administration officers suffered serious injuries after they were attacked by people posing as complainants at the Chanagande police camp. There are reports that two guns were stolen, but no arrests or recovery has been made.
“The officer who was in the office was attacked but managed to shoot three times in the air to disperse the crowd,” District Commissioner Fredrick Ayieko said.
Mr Mraja has criticised the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for holding mock elections Malindi (exercise was also held in Kajiado North) when some of residents are disgruntled.
“Holding such a mock exercise here is tantamount to inciting and testing our resolve that no Kenyan elections will be held in this region,” he said.
Reported By Daniel Nyassy, Bozo Jenje and Antony Kitimo