Kenya: Hassan Joho, Amason Kingi in Battle for Coast

22 February 2021

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi is leading an onslaught on ODM and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho in a supremacy fight that has scuttled the long-touted formation of a Coast-based party.

The move has prompted ODM leader Raila Odinga to plan a massive four-day tour of the Coast as the two governors face off in what could determine the political direction of the region.

Mr Odinga will start his tour in Mombasa and then move to the other Coastal counties.

Ten days after the Coast governors met in Taita-Taveta County and agreed to work under one umbrella ahead of the 2022 General Election, its unity seems to not hold strong after five of them skipped a rally held in Lamu, accusing some leaders of pushing their selfish political agenda instead of the region's interests.

As Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho led 28 elected leaders in the rally at Mkunguni to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative, Mr Kingi held a series of meetings in his county, where he castigated Mombasa politicians for vowing not to abandon ODM for a yet to be unveiled Coastal party.

The sentiments were directed at Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, who said he and Mr Joho would not abandon ODM since they had invested a lot of resources in the party. The MP's remarks seem to go against what was agreed in Taita-Taveta by the governors. Mr Kingi said the politicians insisting on staying in ODM while on the other hand saying they want the Coast region to unite is irony and should be condemned.

Skip meeting

"If today I claim that I have invested so much in ODM and so I am not willing to abandon it for another party, the same will be done by Governor Salim Mvurya of Jubilee and Granton Samboja of Wiper, and thus the Coastal political unity will never materialise.," he said.

According to insiders, the five governors decided to skip the meeting called by Mr Joho in Lamu in protest against "the governor's move to advance his presidential agenda in favour of the region's unity".

"We agreed to start grassroots mobilisation, but some leaders decided to put the cart before the horse. That is why five governors decided to stay away from the rally," said a politician from Taita-Taveta.

Mr Shee Kassim, an elder and a political analyst in Lamu, said Mr Kingi is also seeking the presidency in the 2022 elections.

According to Mr Kassim, Mr Kingi views himself as the Coastal political Kingpin since he is from the Mijikenda tribe, which is concentrated across all the Coast counties, unlike other tribes.

He said Mr Kingi also feels he is the right person from the region to be fronted for the presidential seat in 2022 since he has been supporting other candidates in past years. "I have a feeling that Mr Kingi's absence during the Lamu rally was intentional. Even if we are told he was meeting MCAs from his county, that should have waited, and he should rather have focused on the Lamu rally," said Mr Kassim

The dilly-dallying of Mr Kingi has sent shockwaves in ODM as it is the same path that Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya used to dump the party.

The loss of Mr Kingi would leave ODM with only two governors from the region -- Mr Joho and Tana River's Dhadho Godhana.

Right person

On Saturday during the Lamu rally that was attended by more than 28 Members of the National Assembly, senators, women representatives and MCAs from across the Coast region, Governor Joho insisted that he was the right person to contest for Presidency.

"I want to make it clear that I will be in the Presidential race come 2022. Nobody can stop me. I assure you that the first President of this country from the Coast will be Hassan Ali Joho," said Mr Joho.

The other five governors from the region including the host Fahim Twaha did not attend the rally or send their apologies.

Coast Parliamentary Group Secretary Teddy Mwambire, who is also the Ganze MP, however, said the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani is still intact.

Mr Mwambire also expressed confidence that the Coast unity will be achieved.

But he was quick to add that the political faction backing Deputy President William Ruto is trying to make it difficult for the region to attain the much-needed unity.

"Unity among Coast leaders is already there. It's only a few of our colleagues backing DP Ruto who are trying to fight that unity of purpose," said Mr Mwabire.

By Antony Kitimo, Kalume Kazungu and Charles Lwanga

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