Governor Hassan Joho is set to exit in 2022 after his second and final term ends. Both Shahbal and Omar ran against Joho in 2017
Shahbal, Omar the new faces of Mombasa Governor battle?
BY BRIAN OTIENO @Yobramos4 Thursday, 19 March 2020
Recent activities by Mombasa politicians have pointed to realignments ahead of the 2022 general elections.
With Governor Hassan Joho set to exit in 2022 after his second and final term ends, Politicians Suleiman Shahbal and Hassan Omar are angling to succeed the ODM deputy party leader.
Last Saturday, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali posted photos of his meeting with Deputy President William Ruto and former Omar at the DP’s office in Nairobi.
The photo ignited speculation Ruto could be preparing to throw his weight behind Omar to succeed Joho.
The former senator is yet to publicly declare whether he will run for the position of Mombasa governor in 2022. He lost to Joho in 2017 and has been working behind the scenes since the elections.
On Wednesday evening, Shahbal hosted ODM leader Raila Odinga for dinner at the Kilua Resort in Shanzu. The politician-cum-businessman also posted photos of the meeting on social media.
Political observers say the two could be the main contenders for the seat should they be backed by DP Ruto and Raila.
However, both Ali and Shahbal on Thursday told the Star there was nothing unusual about their respective meetings.
The two said they discussed mostly issues concerning Mombasa and its dwindling economy.
“It was a normal visit to discuss issues of Mombasa first. Nothing major. Mombasa is becoming a ghost town and we discussed what can be done to revive it,” Ali told the Star on the phone.
Shahbal admitted he discussed politics with Raila but said it was not the "major issue."
Raila flew to Mombasa on Wednesday specifically for the meeting and returned to Nairobi on Thursday morning.
“We discussed both national and Mombasa politics. But that is not for public consumption,” Shahbal said.
He said the major issues of discussion were ‘matters of interest’ from the coronavirus, the SGR and the economy of Mombasa.
“I pushed him to have a stronger position on SGR. His position is that all cities must adapt. He said we cannot stop progress, which is true."
“I said the quickest way to adapt is through the Dongo Kundu and asked him to push for its faster implementation. We are in sync,” Shahbal said.
Shahbal’s meeting with Raila comes just three days after he met with Joho in the governor’s office.
This further strengthens the narrative that Shahbal is being considered by ODM as their possible 2022 candidate for governorship.
Shahbal has twice contested the seat against ODM’s Joho and lost on both occasions.
In 2013, he contested on a Wiper ticket before decamping to Jubilee Party on whose ticket he lost in 2017.
Omar, contested for the seat in 2017 on the Wiper ticket, before jumping ship to Jubilee Party shortly after the elections.
His phone was not going through when we tried to contact him on Thursday.
He has been telling the Star he is taking a political hiatus whenever contacted on political matters.
Although he said Kenyans were reading too much into their Saturday meeting, Ali on Thursday said Omar would be the best candidate for the Mombasa governorship in 2022.
“If that is their thinking (that Omar wants to vie for governor) and they want us also to think about it, why not?
“If he wants to come, he is the best candidate. He is the best among the rest. Others are test tube governors,” Ali said.
Other people who have declared interest in succeeding Joho in 2022 are Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo, Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), Mishi Mboko (Likoni) and former county secretary Francis Thoya.
It was not the first time Shahbal hosted Raila. The two had a breakfast meeting before Raila addressed a meeting as the AU envoy at Whitesands Hotel in August last year.
Shahbal is the KenTrade chairman.
He developed cordial relations with his hitherto political nemesis, Joho, with whom they have had several meetings ever since they declared a political truce early last year.
Omar’s relationship with Joho broke down when he was Mombasa senator and accused the governor of running the county like his personal property.
Joho is a strong ally of Raila, and the two are strongly opposed to DP Ruto.
Ruto is said to be the one who convinced Omar to join Jubilee Party shortly after the 2017 elections.
Omar then campaigned for Jubilee after the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru’s win and ordered a repeat presidential election.
edited by peter obuya