NATIONAL UNITY:

Coastal political party not good for national unity - Raila

He said leaders should only concentrate on revamping regional economic bloc.

In Summary

• Raila said the leaders should only concentrate on revamping the regional economic bloc that will benefit all residents and not a regional pact.

• Raila further cautioned leaders against misusing the country’s multi-party democracy to create ethnic political parties.

Opposition Leader Raila Odinga is received by Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja at Ikanga airstrip in Voi on Monday. Odinga is in a five day charm offensive coastal tour
REGIONAL PARTY: Opposition Leader Raila Odinga is received by Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja at Ikanga airstrip in Voi on Monday. Odinga is in a five day charm offensive coastal tour
Image: SOLOMON MUINGI

ODM leader Raila Odinga has told off a section of coastal leaders agitating for the region to chart its own path with a regional party terming it a threat to national unity.

He said the leaders should only concentrate on revamping the regional economic bloc that will benefit all residents and not a regional pact.

“All other regions have regrouped to build their regional economies, leaders here should also emulate the same because Pwani (Coast) is part of Kenya,” the opposition leader told journalists during an interview in Voi on Tuesday.

A section of ODM allied lawmakers and governors are pushing for the formation of a regional political party.

The leaders, led by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and an ODM stalwart, said that that time was ripe for the region to drift from the orange party and take part in national politics.

Raila further cautioned leaders against misusing the country’s multi-party democracy to create ethnic political parties.

He said those pushing for the regional party are violating the Constitution.

“We want to have national political parties because regional and county parties will only divide the country. It is against the Constitution to form a trial party and I advise the coastal community to remain in national parties,” he added.

The AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development is on a five-day tour of the Coast region to popularise BBI ahead of the referendum after the six coastal assemblies passed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

He is also focusing to dissuade his allies from forming a regional party that would all but signal a massive loss of ground for the Orange team.

The Star has established that the ODM boss has successfully lured Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to remain in the party as he courts for more lieutenants.

Joho, an ODM Party Leader has declared his interest to contest for the ODM presidential party ticket.  

Asked about Joho’s candidature, Raila said it was his democratic right to vie for the country’s top seat and that he (Joho) shall be subjected to party election.

“Just like any other position, Joho can vie for the presidency on an ODM ticket. A democratic system shall be used to vote for a flag bearer. My other deputy and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya also wants to vie on ODM,” Raila said.

Joho has severally distanced himself from ditching the orange team, leaving the urge to form a new political outfit to Governor Kingi.

Sources say Raila is strategically grooming Joho to be his deputy president in the 2022 presidential race.

The bid, insiders say, is to neutralize attempts by Joho to leave the party as well as ringing the coastal community closer to the government.

ODM wants to avert political blunders that could raise Deputy President William Ruto's influence in the region that has for the last three general elections voted overwhelmingly for Raila.

When four coastal governors met last month in Taita Taveta, they declared to steer the region to have a pie in the national politics.

The governors: Joho, Kingi, Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and Tana River's Dhadho Godhana said hey shall rally the region towards establishing a common political party.

“Those that we have supported in the past should come and support us. We have agreed to lead our people from the front," Samboja said adding that, “Going forward, we have agreed to seek bigger support from like-minded politicians and political parties. The region remains focused on being included at the national level,”

However, sources say Raila’s new tactic has left the county leaders short of options but to support ODM.

The opposition leader is persuading his allies in the region to form a coalition of local parties as part of a strategy to consolidate the region behind ODM.

He is also keen to minimize the impact of DP Ruto's forays into his Coastal stronghold.

Raila will on Tuesday tour Kilifi County after a two-day stay in Taita Taveta, a move insiders say is a litmus test for Governor Kingi who has been on loggerheads with his boss.

In his visit, the ODM boss will also receive back to the party Mombasa businessman-cum-politician Suleiman Shahbal.

Shahbal has announced he is rejoining ODM, setting the stage for a major political battle for the party's ticket and Mombasa governorship.