The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Lamu Branch has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration to listen to coastal leaders who are pushing for the secession of the region.
Addressing journalists in his office on Monday, Lamu NCCK Chairman Charles Herya said the council seeks to have the government understand why coastal leaders want to secede before harshly judging them.
Mr Herya said the secession decision arose from historical injustices meted on the region and which have never been addressed by any regime.
He pointed out at the many extra-judicial killings of the youth and clerics in the Coast which have never been explained as another cause of disaffection among the residents.
“People shouldn’t be quick to judge those calling for secession of the Coast region. They should first ask why such an idea is reached at in the first place.
“In my view, I feel the Coast leaders are not really after secession but are demanding for their grievances to be heard and [addressed]. That’s justifiable.
“We have witnessed clerics being killed in various parts of the Coast. Youth have disappeared without a trace after they were reported to have been arrested by police. In such cases, justice has never been served. People feel they aren’t protected. They feel they are better off on their own,” said Mr Herya.
Mr Herya, who is also the archdeacon of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) in the region, said at the moment, Coast people feel left out of the rest of Kenya hence prompting them to harbour the thought of having their own country where they will feel they are part and parcel of the government and all associated processes, unlike now.
He said for peace and cohesion to reign in the country, it is necessary for every region to receive equal attention from the national government in order to discard the feeling that some areas are more important than others.
He said the government should fully engage leaders from the region calling for secession and understand what makes them feel they no longer want to belong to Kenya and subsequently come up with a way to cultivate inclusivity for all regions in the country.
Mr Herya cited the rampant land injustices in the Coast, lack of title deeds, poor infrastructure in various sectors and the general lack of equal representation in government as major reasons behind the push for secession.
“As for me, I don’t believe that someone just woke up one day and decided they no longer want to be part of Kenya. This is something that has been brewing over the years. It all boils down to the way people feel they are treated.
“There is enough reason for people to feel they want their own country but the good news is there is still a chance for the government to sit and listen to those concerns then act accordingly. Historical injustices must be addressed if peace should reign in this country,” said Mr Herya.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey has said that calls for secession of the Coast region are not helpful and that Kenya should remain one country.
He said this when he met with Governor Joho, one of the main proponents of the secession.
On his part, Mr Joho claimed that the national government has been undermining devolution, thus the reason they resorted to the agitation for secession.
Additional reporting by Mathias Ringa