Two Wiper aspirants for the Mombasa governor’s seat have defied their party leader’s, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, call to unite.
The differences between Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti highlight the headache that top political leaders face in the run-up to the August election.
Both Mr Omar and Mr Awiti vowed to meet at the nominations, a move that the Opposition party fears can lead to internal wrangles that could affect its fortunes come election time.
Mr Awiti, while closing any door to negotiations, said he was not willing to deputise anybody.
The dilemma within Wiper is indicative of the bigger tussle within the opposition Coalition Nasa, of which Musyoka’s party is a part.
Even if Wiper is to agree on a candidate for governor, such a person will also have to face off with Governor Joho of ODM, which is also part of the Nasa coalition.
Incidentally, the leaders of the four parties in Nasa — Mr Raila Odinga of ODM, Mr Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress, Mr Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya and Mr Musyoka — signed a pact to face the governing Jubilee as one.
However, the Wednesday meeting did not come up with concrete nomination rules.
The coalition is also yet to pick its presidential candidate.
The biggest challenge that both Nasa and Jubilee face is to ensure that any fallouts following nominations will not affect their chances in the General Election.
Already, Jubilee has indicated that it will contract the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct its nominations.
Talks on how to do this are expected to start on Tuesday.
Nasa has, on the other hand, ruled out such a possibility.
Smaller parties are also waiting on the sidelines to reap should some aspirants choose to ditch the big parties and find alternative platforms to put their names on the ballots.
All the parties, however, are now grappling with ways to manage the egos of their aspirants, the competing interest of friendly parties and the fear of losing their supporters and aspirants to their rivals.
In Mombasa, Mr Awiti has reached out to both the local and business community.
“We have agreed that the Mijikenda community will give me the running mate. Further, my team has negotiated with the business community that it will be an all-inclusive outfit,” he told the Saturday Nation on phone.
Mr Omar too was separately upbeat, saying he will pick a woman as running mate, dashing all hopes that he could heed Mr Musyoka’s call to have him and Mr Awiti run jointly.
Speaking during an interview at the Bliss Resorts in Mombasa, Mr Omar ruled out any agreement with Mr Awiti ahead of the primaries.
Mr Musyoka, who had visited the Coastal town last week, had appealed to the two leaders to join hands and back one of them for governor.
“One of you should be a running mate to the other to avoid a fallout in the party and to give us a better chance of winning in the August polls,” Mr Musyoka had said.
In Mombasa, as in other Coast counties, Nasa is facing major nomination hurdles given that both ODM and Wiper have strong candidates for the governor’s position.
In Mombasa, the Wiper candidate will still have to square it out with the incumbent Governor Hassan Joho of ODM.
This could hand an advantage to the ruling Jubilee Party of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto, who are seeking a foothold in the Opposition zone.
The Jubilee side has forged a united front by picking businessman Suleiman Shahbal as its candidate with Mr Ananiah Mwaboiza as running mate.
In neighbouring Kwale County, Governor Salim Mvurya seems to be the undisputed Jubilee candidate after ditching the Opposition recently, leaving a divided Opposition that is now grappling with who to pick to run against Mr Mvurya.
The ODM chairman in the county, Mr Nicholas Zani, has declared he is in the race and so are other candidates including current Kwale County Assembly Speaker Sammy Ruwa, Plan International Uganda Country Director Issa Chipera, Mr Gereza Dena and former PS Mohammed Mwarapayo.
Then there is former ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who resigned his job in the hope of unseating Mr Mvurya.
During a recent tour to Kwale, ODM leader Raila Odinga urged the leaders to compete peacefully during the party’s primaries.
The aspirants agreed to engage in a peaceful campaign and whoever wins during the nominations will be supported by the others.
However, this remains to be seen as politicians have made similar pledges before only for them to go their separate ways after losing the tickets.
In Taita Taveta County, Nasa will face another headache as the incumbent, Mr John Mruttu, faces off with ODM Chief Whip and Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu for the governor’s seat.
Senator Dan Mwazo, who ditched ODM to join Jubilee, will also be in the race to battle it out with his former allies, Mr Mruttu and Mr Mwadeghu.
In Tana River County, Mr Hussein Dado was elected governor on a Wiper ticket alongside his running mate Mr Jire Siyat Mohamed.
However, Mr Siyat has now turned the guns against his boss and has announced that he will be challenging him on the same party ticket.
Another candidate, Major (Rtd) Dhadho Godhana intends to vie for the seat on an ODM ticket further complicating things for Nasa.