Kenya: Joho Joins Quest for Coast Political Unity

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has said the quest for Coast political unity is on course, signalling his commitment to a cause that has seen him openly clash with his Kilifi colleague Amason Kingi.

Mr Joho said the team spearheading the drive, "which is growing bigger every day", will hold meetings to popularise the unity in the Coast and other regions.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) deputy party leader blamed Covid-19 restrictions for the lull in activities, adding that there will be meetings in Kwale, Wajir and the Rift Valley once they are eased.

"We suspended our campaigns because of Covid-19, but the journey had already started," Mr Joho said when he met Jomvu MP Badi Twalib for an iftar at his home on Sunday.

On March 30 Mr Joho, Mr Kingi and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya met at Mr Mvurya's office on March 30, with sources saying the region's unity was on the three governors' agenda.

The Kwale meeting took place four days after they met President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi.

Mr Joho, Mr Kingi and Mr Mvurya are in their final terms and have set their eyes on national politics.

While they agree on the importance of the region's unity, they are at loggerheads under which umbrella it should be affiliated to.

Joho's presidential bid

Mr Joho wants the Coast to consolidate its position in ODM and to support his presidential bid. However, Mr Kingi says the region should abandon ODM for a Coast-based party or coalition.

Mr Joho has submitted his bid for the ODM presidential ticket and is expected to face Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and party leader Raila Odinga.

Following a meeting with the 54 Kilifi ward representatives and their Speaker Jimmy Kahindi in February, Mr Kingi told off Coast politicians who had declared they would not abandon ODM.

"I invested a lot in ODM and therefore I am not willing to ditch the party for Coast unity, Mvurya will also declare the same on Jubilee, Samboja too on Wiper and Twaha," Mr Kingi said.

He was referring to governors Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Fahim Twaha (Lamu) and Tana River's Dhadho Godhana.

Mr Mvurya had remained silent on the matter until he, Mr Joho and Mr Kingi went to see the President.

For now, it is not clear which direction the three county bosses have decided to take on the Coast unity.

Coast political party

"Whatever you see out there, put it in your minds that the team is becoming bigger and broader. People are coming on board for us to speak in one voice," Governor Joho said.

"We stopped the meetings only because of the Covid-19 pandemic. You would be seeing us on the road."

Mr Badi said he could not speak for other leaders but that he had discussed the unity with the governor.

"It is important to have this discussion for the good of our people," the Jomvu lawmaker said.

ODM, on whose ticket Mr Kingi and Mr Joho were elected, is opposed to the idea of a Coast political party.

When Mr Odinga was in the Coast several weeks ago, he asked the Kilifi governor to go slow on the matter.

Mr Odinga said the campaign is divisive, adding that he has always been against the idea of splitting Kenyans on regional, tribal, party or religious lines. His sentiments were not taken well by Mr Kingi.

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