Kenya will appeal the overturning of a ban on a separatist group, the Mombasa Republic Council (MRC), who want to split the popular tourist coastal region from the country, officials said Thursday.
The move follows a High Court ruling made in the port city of Mombasa on Wednesday that revoked a 2010 decision to outlaw the group, who complain they have been marginalised by an elite based inland in the capital Nairobi.
"Any group or organisation challenging the constitutional authority and territorial integrity of the Republic of Kenya cannot enjoy protection by the constitution," Deputy Solicitor-General Muthoni Kimani said in a statement.
The three-judge panel on Wednesday advised the MRC to pursue its separatist ambitions through the courts.
"Secession can only be achieved by far-reaching amendments to the constitution," the judgment read.
President Mwai Kibaki has repeatedly rejected the group's separatist calls, and the national security committee is expected to meet on Thursday to address the implications of the court ruling.
"The disadvantage is that we cannot charge the leaders of the organisation - they may incite members into criminal activities," said Charles Owino, a police spokesman.
"We will still charge those who break the law as individuals, and not as members belonging to an organisation."
Top MRC official Randu Nzai welcomed the ruling, and said the group was willing to hold talks with government officials as they continued with their campaign for secession.
"We shall sit at the table with them as long as they know the ultimate goal is to go our separate ways...The decades of neglect can only be corrected by secession," Nzai said.
"We thank the courts for the ruling, and now we are free to tell our people what we are all about, no one will be victimised for joining us," he added.
Police have blamed several violent acts to the group, including a recent disruption of training by the election commission ahead of national elections next year.© ANP/AFP