Joho-Uhuru union jolts Jubilee ‘new point men’ in Coast
The newfound political friendship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile critic Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho continued to blossom yesterday, with the county boss reiterating his commitment to work with the government.
Speaking during Idd-ul-Fitr prayers at Ronald Ngala grounds, Mr Joho, who is also the ODM deputy leader, said the new-found unity with President Kenyatta was there to stay.
“I am committed to the unity, and we will walk the journey together [with President Kenyatta] so that we can have a nation that is free from tribalism and religious differences,” Mr Joho said.
However, Mr Joho’s move has thrown the Opposition at the Coast in disarray, with observers believing it has been swallowed as virtually all elected leaders are now showing allegiance to the government.
A majority of opposition MPs, mainly from ODM, have embraced Deputy President William Ruto’s activities at the Coast following President Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s political truce. Some have even declared their support for Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.
Mr Joho has also declared interest for the top seat. The governor’s entry into the group working with Jubilee has shaken the camaraderie among Coast leaders, who had positioned themselves around President Kenyatta and his deputy, acting as the duo’s point men.
The signs of changing times appeared on Thursday when Mr Joho and MPs backing him stole the show after he shook hands with President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, pushing other Coast leaders to the periphery.
Mr Joho stood next to the President together with Mr Ruto at the main dais during the opening of the first phase of Dongo Kundu bypass at Bonje. Mr Joho also promised to mobilise residents to attend President Kenyatta’s events.
Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya said he was pleased with Mr Joho’s gesture. “I came here to hear what my brother Joho will say, and I thank him for the good speech he has given,” Mr Mvurya said.
Asked yesterday if his dalliance with President Kenyatta will affect his presidential bid, Mr Joho said: “For now let us focus on uniting Kenyans. That is the agenda for now.”
On Thursday, Mr Joho told the President: “I want to tell you that a huge crowd will turn out to welcome you during your visits. We will work with you and support your government going forward.”
Mr Joho, who cracked jokes with President Kenyatta, diffusing past tension between them and their supporters, also shook hands with Mr Ruto as he promised to work with the ruling party “for the sake of Kenyans.”
Mr Ruto has been frequenting Coast region, which was hostile to Jubilee in past elections, hoping to win locals support following the Uhuru-Raila pact ahead of 2022 elections.
The visits have seen a number of opposition MPs turning out to welcome him unlike before. The MPs have been praising the DP’s ‘development record’, with Msambweni’s Suleiman Dori and Malindi’s Aisha Jumwa declaring he is the best to succeed President Kenyatta.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has also signalled he could work with Mr Ruto.
But Mr Joho, who met Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi recently and promised to join hands ahead of the next polls, has been favouring to work with President Kenyatta’s camp as opposed to Mr Ruto’s. Mr Moi said the ODM deputy leader was an “extremely important person in the political equation of the country.”
Most of the Jubilee political losers have since been rewarded with public appointments.
Among notable figures backing the Jubilee administration who are yet to benefit are former Senator Hassan Omar, former governor John Mruttu and former MP Mustafa Iddi.