Kingi wants Coast party, ODM future under threat

Kingi's move will raise the stakes in the battle for the control of Coast politics.

In Summary

• Raila's Coast allies have dismissed plans for a regional outfit, claiming ODM represents the Coast people's aspirations.

• However, a charm offensive by DP Ruto's Tangatanga brigade also threatens the Orange party's fortunes.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi during a rally in Mariakani, Kilifi.
ODM TRIO: Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi during a rally in Mariakani, Kilifi.

Raila Odinga's stranglehold on the Coast faces a major threat after Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi joined the push for a regional party.

For the first time, Kingi - an influential ODM stalwart - openly declared the Coast region must settle on its own political party by June this year.

Kingi's move has opened a new  battlefront with his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho and sibling rivalry is likely to complicate ODM's fortunes.

Joho, an ODM deputy leader, is seen as ODM's face at the Coast. The other deputy party leader is Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

Kingi has often launched  ferocious verbal attacks on Deputy President William Ruto, claiming he is planning to divide the Coast region.

“The people in the region are tired of being treated like second-class citizens during every poll and we demand to be recognised as we have more than 1.7 million registered voters,” Kingi said.

The second-term governor's support for creation of a political vehicle for the region could also heighten temperatures and Raila's troops are expected to launch a counter-offensive.

Kingi spoke during the burial of former Kaloleni MP Gunga Mwinga over the weekend.

He appeared to warn the region against warming up to Ruto's United Democratic Alliance.

The party symbolised by a wheelbarrow  has been associated with Ruto as part of his fall back for 2022 and reports of a scheme to sponsor small regional parties to neutralise ODM.

“I thank Coastal leaders for not attending the United Democratic Alliance launch. Coast will not be used to fill the baskets of others,” Kingi said.

With an aggressive onslaught from Ruto, whose allies are spearheading calls for a regional party, Raila's party is said to be facing a bleak future in the region.

"It will no longer be business as usual for ODM  at the Coast," observed political risk analyst Dismus Mokua said.

Mokua said Ruto has an elaborate plan to back regional parties and then lure them into a coalition with him ahead of 2022.

"This creation of tribal parties is being advanced by Ruto's allies who fear falling by the wayside to popular parties in 2022," Mokua said.

Kingi has previously been linked to a political plan by Ruto to firm up his grip on the Coast although he has often dismissed the claims.

Some of Kingi's handlers are said to be secretly meeting Ruto in what is seen as a plan to win over the Kilifi governor as the DP rolls out a Coast takeover.

However, Raila's allies have dismissed any imminent popularity threat posed by calls for the formation of a regional party, saying ODM is the party to beat.

It lost badly in the Mswambeni by-election to the independent candidate backed by Ruto.

“The ODM party is the most popular party at the Coast and indeed across the country. Those who are trying to divide the people of the Coast through the creation of a regional outfit will not succeed," Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said.

Nassir, the chairman of the National Assembly's Public Investments Committee, said no attempt by selfish politicians will diminish ODM's fortunes at the Coast.

“We have an elaborate plan on how we shall strengthen the ODM party across the Coast region and completely annihilate leaders trying to dictate our political future,” he said.

Joho has warned the plan to form a regional party is a scheme by Ruto to divide the region's votes and advance his 2022 presidential bid without any benefits for the Coast people.

“Formation of a new political party will only divide the people further and undermine the region's unity in ODM, which has enabled them to push our agenda as a united region on the national stage,” Joho said.

On Monday Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa reiterated that leaders from the  Coast must unite and form a single party that will drive the interests of the people of the region.

“It is time we must come together and think of how we shall create a political party that will fight for the rights of the coastal nation,” she said, adding that having its own party will be an honour for the Coast.

(Edited by V. Graham)