Raila unifies Joho and Kingi in bid to solidify Coast base
ODM leader Raila Odinga has initiated moves to consolidate his political support base at the Coast after meeting with governors Hassan Joho and Amason Kingi.
Mr Odinga met Mr Joho and Mr Kingi, who have in recent weeks been pulling in different directions, and they all agreed that they should work together.
The two supported Mr Odinga’s bid for the presidency last year and both have already indicated that they are interested in the top office come 2022.
Whereas Mr Joho has remained firmly behind Mr Odinga, Mr Kingi has been seen to be gravitating towards Deputy President William Ruto, who is expected to be the Jubilee candidate in 2022.
Mombasa Governor Joho, Kilifi’s Kingi and Mr Odinga met on Wednesday at Mama Ashanti Restaurant in Lavington, Nairobi.During the talks, Mr Joho agreed to reschedule Friday’s meeting with Coast MCAs to Wednesday.
According to Mr Joho’s handlers, the ODM deputy party leader and Mr Kingi met Mr Odinga for lunch after the governors had met Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and resolved to work together.
“Boss (Mr Joho) was on Tuesday appearing before the Senate and that evening they met with Mr Kingi who was also in Nairobi and the following day met with Baba (Mr Odinga), where Mr Kingi also agreed to attend Mr Joho’s meeting with MCAs,” Mr Joho’s ally said.
Mr Joho called for the meeting with at least 200 MCAs from the six Coast counties a day after Mr Kingi met 21 MPs from the region.
Mr Joho’s move raised eyebrows on the unity of the two who appear to have had a falling-out since the March 9 peace deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
A week after they met Mr Balala, they are set to meet again in a public forum.
“The meeting will be held at Pride Hotel, Shanzu, where all the Coast MCAs have been invited,” Mombasa wards coordinator Idris Abdulrahman said, adding that Mr Kingi had confirmed his attendance.
Mr Abdulrahman said MCAs from Tana River, Lamu and Taita-Taveta had asked to be fully involved as the meeting had mostly focused on their colleagues from Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties.
He said the Wednesday meeting aims at spearheading the President’s and Mr Odinga’s Building Bridges initiative at the grassroots.
A second meeting to bring together all elected Coast leaders, regardless of party affiliations, is scheduled for September.
Mr Joho’s decision to reach out to MCAs to penetrate the six Coast counties is seen as a reaction to a realisation that MPs from the Coast are now coalescing around Mr Ruto.
While Mr Joho has indicated that he will seek the ODM ticket for the presidency in 2022, Mr Kingi has said he will form his own party, but he has also shown interest in working with Mr Ruto.
Mr Odinga’s move is likely to complicate the political arithmetic in the Coast, especially if he gets Mr Joho and Mr Kingi to work as a team.