Kenya's MRC leader Omar Mwamnuadzi charged

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Omar Mwamnuadzi wants independence for a region at the heart of Kenya's tourism sector

The leader of a secessionist group in Kenya has been charged with holding an illegal gathering and planning to breach the peace.

Omar Mwamnuadzi denied the charge during a court appearance late on Wednesday.

He was arrested with 11 other members of his Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) following a police raid on his home.

The government regards the MRC, which wants independence for the former Coast province, as a terrorist group.

However, Kenya's High Court unbanned the group in 2012.

The MRC denies claims by government officials that it has forged links with Somalia's militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

The MRC accuses successive governments of marginalising the ethnic groups living along the coast, where many people are Muslims, and giving land to outsiders.

The region is the centre of the country's tourism sector.

The BBC's Dennis Okari reports from the capital, Nairobi, that Mr Mwamnuadzi and his co-accused were apparently found with material written in Arabic and police have asked for more time to translate the contents.

The 12 have been remanded in custody and will appear in court again later this month.

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