Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi’s recent pronouncement that he will vie for the presidency has ignited the scramble for political control of the Coast region ahead of 2022.
Serving his last term as governor, Kingi is looking at the next step in his chequered political career.
“I have enough experience from being a legislator, minister and governor. I am ripe for the presidency of Kenya or the Coast republic once we achieve our secession,” Kingi told Sunday Standard.
His open flirtation with Kenya’s top seat will jolt Coast politics. It complicates the political ambitions of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, ODM’s deputy party boss and the de facto leader of the Coast, who has for the last three years said he will contest the presidency in 2022.
Alive to the fact that it may be hard to topple Joho from his position in ODM, Kingi has indicated he could vie for the top seat on a new coastal party, a move that could complicate the political terrain for him in the region.
Kingi and Joho are currently the most influential politicians in the region and are both serving their second and last terms as governors. Just like many of their colleagues serving their last term, the two find themselves at cross-roads on their political careers. Though friends who have excited the political scene in the Coast, Kingi and Joho could collide given that each will be fighting for political relevance. They are likely to run against each other in the quest for Coastal supremacy.
To Kingi, his resolve to vie for the presidency is unfettered. Although he says he will reach out to Joho for support, it is clear he will be playing his own game.
His push for a new party is a clear indication that he is keen to cut a niche for himself as he angles for the big seat.
Kingi believes a new Coastal party will be a rallying point for the region’s close to three million votes. “We will use the party to drive an agenda that will seek to empower our marginalised people,’’ he said.
Yet the Kilifi governor is not keen to sever ties with his Mombasa friend. “We will sit down and agree between us on who has better chances to clinch the presidency, which has been elusive for the Coastal people,” he told Sunday Standard.
In his push for a new party, Kingi enjoys the unanimous and tacit support from all the seven Kilifi MPs. Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and Owen Baya (Kilifi South) say the time is right for the Coast to form a new party and field a presidential candidate.
But why not revive the region’s old parties? Kadu Asili, National Labour Party of Kenya, The Islamic Party of Kenya, Chama cha Majimbo na Mwangaza, Shirikisho Party of Kenya, Uzalendo Party of Kenya and Federal Party of Kenya are domiciled in the region.
“All these are issues that are under considerations at the moment. Secession campaigns and the new party are agendas we are deliberating on as we seek to emancipate our people,” Kingi said.
Joho, who is the ODM deputy party leader, is a strong supporter of NASA leader Raila Odinga and is keen to inherit his political base.
Whereas Joho has deep pockets, Kingi is a good orator and mobiliser. He proved his mantle in the August 8 2017 General Election by delivering the governor, senator, all constituency seat and 90 per cent of county assembly seats to ODM.
Maimuna Mwidau, a political analyst, believes the secession talks propagated by Kingi are a strategy towards the formation of a new party.
“It is a topic that raises the emotions of the Coast people regardless of party affiliations. The ultimate goal was the formation of a political party,” Ms Mwidau said.
But Caleb Ng’wena, a human rights activist, does not believe Kingi’s proposed new party will be any different from its predecessor and may suffer the same fate. Mr Ng’wena told Sunday Standard historical, racial and religious differences pit Coastal people against each other, making it hard for a local party to flourish.
He believes Joho and Kingi will easily fall prey to other parties dangling the Deputy President’s seat in the 2022 race.