By Mohamed Ahmed
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho appears isolated as political re-alignments heighten at the coast following truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The changing political wave at the coast is expected to dominate President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Mombasa on Thursday when he opens the first phase of the Sh11 billion Dongo-Kundu bypass.
Mr Joho has in the past been a critic of President Kenyatta but he swallowed his pride and expressed interest in working with him following the March 9 political deal.
Observers are watching today’s events, when President Kenyatta visits Mombasa for the first time after the handshake. Prior to the handshake, President Kenyatta had asked Mr Joho to keep off his events.
Mr Joho, who has been in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was expected back in the country on Wednesday, with his handlers insisting that he will be there to welcome the Head of State.
Mr Joho’s former close political allies have deserted him, placing his bid for the 2022 presidency in limbo even before the campaigns start.
The governor, who enjoyed the support of nearly all MPs from the six coast counties and played a major role in the election of a number of them, is now seem to have only Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, Mombasa Woman Representative Aisha Hussein, and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir on his side.
Most of the elected leaders at the coast have of late extended an olive branch to Mr Ruto, turning out to welcome him wherever he is in the region and praising him for being “development conscious.”
The move has shaken the ODM deputy leader’s stranglehold in the six Coast counties where he was regarded as political kingpin and ‘sultan.’ Most of Mr Joho’s allies, including Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, have embraced Mr Ruto.
Others are Msambweni’s Suleiman Dori, the chairman of the Coast Parliamentary Group and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who have said they will campaign for Mr Ruto.
In Kilifi, where ODM scooped all the elective seats, leaving only left three MCA slots to Kadu Asili and independent candidates. Kilifi South MP Owen Baya is among those who have since joined Mr Ruto camp and has taken issue with his party threats to punish them.
Although Mombasa Senator Mohammed Faki is believed to be in Mr Joho’s camp, he is among leaders who joined Mr Ruto during his recent tour.
Mr Joho is also not assured of Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi’s support following differences over the seat before the last polls. Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo, Mohammed Ali (Nyali) and Badi Twalib (Jomvu) have also embraced Mr Ruto.
In Kwale, all the four MPs, Mr Dori (Msambweni), Kassim Tandaza (Matuga), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga- Lunga) are leading Mr Ruto’s campaigns. The MPs have joined Governor Salim Mvurya, who is Jubilee’s point-man in the region.
“We are the ones who led our people to the opposition and we are going to tell them to support the leader who is capable of clinching the top seat come 2022,” said Mr Dori.
In Kwale, Mr Joho who recently indicated he could join hands with Kanu boss Gideon Moi in his quest for the presidency is left with Woman Rep Zulekha Juma, who was elected on an ODM ticket, and some MCAs.
In Taita-Taveta, Governor Granton Samboja, MPs Naomi Shaban (Taveta) Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), Jones Mlolwa (Voi), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi) and Woman Rep Lydia Haika are also supporting Mr Ruto.
In Tana River, Mr Joho also enjoys little support from the elected leaders. There has been heightened political re-alignment in the region which has become a major fishing ground for top presidential contenders since President Kenyatta and his arch-rival Mr Odinga reached a political ceasefire.
Mr Ruto has been cashing on the political unity to penetrate the region that was hostile to Jubilee. The DP’s handlers believe his efforts has been bearing fruit as a huge number of opposition MPs who never used to attend let alone being associated with Jubilee leaders were now turning out to welcome and accompany him during his visits.
On the other hand, the number of MPs flanking Mr Odinga have been on the decline. During a visit to Mombasa two weeks ago, Mr Kingi and Ms Jumwa who rarely missed Mr Odinga’s events were among those who gave the visit a wide berth.
Mr Odinga accompanied by Mr Joho, his brother Oburu Oginga (Eala MP), Wajir governor Mohammed Abdi, Senators Mohammed Faki (Mombasa), Issa Boy (Kwale) MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West), Mohammed Hire (Garane), Ms Mboko and Ms Hussein.
Mr Ruto has been at the coast five times-visiting Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties since President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s historic handshake in a bid to penetrate the region that was previously hostile to Jubilee Party.
The DP who was in Kwale last Tuesday before returning on Saturday for a three-day tour of Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale, dishing out goodies and reaching out to locals for support, has been cashing on the ‘handshake’ to turn the political tide in the region in his favour.
The Uhuru-Raila political union has also destabilized the opposition with two camps-one headed by Mr Joho and the other by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi emerging to battle for the control of the 1.7 million votes in six coast counties.
Both Mr Joho and Mr Kingi have announced interest for the presidency when their terms as governors’ end in 2022.
While Mr Joho is keen on vying on an ODM ticket, Mr Kingi has announced he will form his own party and join wants with other parties to form next government.
Mr Joho on the other, last month announced a unity pact with Baringo Senator Gideon Moi ahead of 2022.
The two leaders, who have both declared interest in the presidency in the next General Election, said they will unite “in changing the people’s lives.”
The Kanu party chairman said the ODM deputy leader is an “extremely important person in the political equation of the country.”
~ Nation Media Group
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