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Row in Wiper as Omar, Awiti fight over Mombasa governor seat

By Willis Oketch | Published Mon, March 20th 2017 at 10:46, Updated March 20th 2017 at 11:00 GMT +3

From left: Nyali MP Hezron Awiti, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar at Jesus Winning Soul Ministry Church in Migadini, Changamwe on February 12, 2017. [Photo: Gideon Maundu/Standard].

A fresh dispute has erupted in the Wiper party between Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti.

The dispute is over who between them should be nominated to face Governor Hassan Ali Joho in the August elections.

Jubilee Party has settled on Suleiman Shahbal, who contested against Joho on a Wiper ticket and lost, with former Kisauni MP Anania Mwaboza, as his running mate.

Opposition parties under the National Super Alliance (NASA) have disagreed on a proposal for a joint candidate to contest the gubernatorial seat.

But there is an additional headache within Wiper pitting Mr Awiti and Mr Omar who have distinguished themselves as vocal critics of Joho.

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Reports now indicate that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and other top party leaders called a meeting early this week to reconcile them, and either convince them to run on a joint ticket or persuade either to leave the race but these efforts appear to have collapsed.

It is not clear when the meeting took place and some reports indicate the two rival leaders were hosted at Vipingo in Kilifi.

Awiti's and Omar's sides have given conflicting details of what transpired.

Awiti claims Kalonzo asked Omar to defend his senatorial seat or withdraw his gubernatorial candidacy in favour of the Nyali MP, a claim the senator has denounced.

Sunday, Omar declared that "Awiti will not be Wiper's gubernatorial candidate whichever methodology is used," when The Standard sought his comment following reports that he had agreed to support the Nyali MP's candidacy.

The senator did not provide much details of the meeting with Kalonzo amid reports Awiti rejected a proposal to be senator Omar's running mate, with a guarantee that he will nominate 60 per cent of the cabinet if the ticket prevailed against Joho on August 8.

Senator Omar claimed during the meeting, Awiti was prevailed upon to be his running mate but he did not disclose Awiti's response.

"To the contrary, the party leader asked Awiti to be my deputy. He has several times threatened to leave the party over this. Which party in its right mind will ask me to step down in favour of Awiti?" Senator Omar posed Sunday.

Other reports indicate a follow up meeting to try and restart the negotiations was called off by Kalonzo.

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