Umoja Party to test muscle in Dabaso by-election

Chose not to field a candidate in Ganda by-election but likely to support independent

In Summary

• This will be a litmus test for the new Coast-based party.

• Leaders say a number of MPs want to jump parties to USPK, but that would mean by-elections and the new part is not yet ready.

Umoja Summit Party of Kenya secretary general Naomi Cidi.
NEW COAST PARTY: Umoja Summit Party of Kenya secretary general Naomi Cidi.

The new Umoja Summit Party of Kenya is considering sponsoring a candidate for the imminent Dabaso ward by-election in Kilifi.

Running a USPK candidate would be a litmus test for the Coast-based party that aims to wrest control of the Coast region, as ODM's influence is waning.

The poll date has not been announced.

The High Court in Malindi in July last year nullified the election of Dabaso MCA Emmanuel Changawa after a successful appeal by ANC candidate Dickson Karani.

The Kilifi county assembly is yet to declare the seat vacant.

USPK is likely planning an assault on the seat after missing out on the Ganda by-election scheduled for October 17 for technical and strategic reasons.

“We are being pushed to sponsor someone for the Ganda MCA seat but we don’t want that,” secretary general Naomi Cidi said.

The thinking is that running their own candidate will divide the vote, weakening their own chances of victory and strengthening ODM's

By 2022, there will be no ODM and Jubilee at the Coast because they have done nothing for the region.
Naomi Cidi, USPK secretary general

A run in the Dabaso by-election looks more promising.

“We are being pushed to instal a candidate in Dabaso. We are seriously thinking about that,” Cidi said.

USPK interim chair Matano Chengo said the party will support independent candidate Abdulrahman Mohamed in Ganda.

“We don’t have a candidate. We may support the independent," he told the Star on phone on Monday.

Chengo and Cidi said they have been working behind the scenes to popularise the party and it is gaining traction.

“By 2022, there will be no ODM and Jubilee at the Coast because they have done nothing for the region,” Cidi told the Star on phone on Monday.

They have been strengthened by the recent support from embattled Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who has broken ranks with ODM, the party that sponsored her to Parliament.

At a funeral in Mtondia village, Tezo ward, on September 1, Jumwa accused ODM and Jubilee of using and dumping Coast leaders and residents.

“There is time for everything. The Mijikendas are tired. If a local party will be our salvation, then I am fully behind USPK,” she said.

This strengthened USPK’s resolve to wrest the region from the stranglehold that ODM has had.

USPK is working to ensure ODM does not win the Ganda by-election.

Its operatives are working with Jumwa to support Mohamed, who is the immediate former Ganda MCA.

His election was nullified by the court after now-ODM candidate Rueben Katana challenged his election.

The ODM brigade in Kilifi led by county deputy chairman and Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire have thrown their weight behind Katana.

Other candidates are David Mitsanze of Kadu Asili and Joseph Kiponda of Jubilee.

At the Tezo funeral, Kilifi North MP Own Baya  said he will call a meeting of Coast leaders to chart the way forward outside of ODM and Jubilee.

A source within the USPK told the Star on Monday that top party officials have been meeting with the elected Coast leaders to sell their agenda.

“Already, we have met with more than half the elected leaders at the Coast and there are listening keenly,” a source said. "They told us to be patient."

Cidi said that by 2022 the ODM wave will have been completely weakened and taken over by the new USPK wave.

“We are very happy with our progress,” she said.

Cidi suggested several MPs have expressed willingness to join the party but cannot jump ship now because it will cause problems for them in their current parties.

“Our strategy and main aim is to unite our Coastal people so that we can speak with one strong voice,” Cidi said.

“If they join us now, it means there will be other by-elections. We don’t want other polls. We are going to wait for ODM in 2022,” the secretary general said.

“We just want to show ODM that they have no more place at the Coast,” she said.

Matano said speeches by Jumwa and Kilifi North MP Owen Baya of ODM a funeral on September 1 are telling.

On September 1 at a Texo funeral, Baya criticised ODM, saying it has failed to adequately recognise and reward the Kilifi people for their efforts and loyalty.

(Edited by V. Graham)