Coast realignments: Is it Joho-Uhuru or Kingi-Ruto?

President Uhuru Kenyatta greets Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho during the commissioning of the Dongo Kundu by pass in June. [Maarufu Mohamed,Standard]
The newfound friendship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has sparked a sensation within the region’s political circles.

Joho and Uhuru, who have in the past quarrelled publicly, appear to have made peace as they settle down to cement their legacies. 

In the wake of not less than three meetings with Uhuru, one of which reportedly involved NASA leader Raila Odinga, Joho has also met and made peace with Tourism CS Najib Balala.


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Even Joho’s harshest critics concede that his latest encounters with the President mean a lot and are politically significant for his political future, especially at a time Deputy President William Ruto is on a political hunting spree at the Coast.

Although Joho’s strategy is yet to crystallise, there are reports that he has already crafted a plan to fight back Ruto’s gains that have netted Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori and a host of other regional leaders.

Indeed, there are reports that some of Ruto’s former allies, who are miffed by the DP’s new friendships, are gravitating towards an alliance being fleshed out by Joho and his friends in Coast and beyond. 

Although he speaks less and holds fewer functions, Joho has re-emerged to reclaim his space in Coast politics after a 10-month sabbatical that saw critics write him off in the wake of the March 9 rapprochement between President Kenyatta and Raila. In that time, the DP has made 14 tours to the Coast to launch projects and fund-raise.

During the visits, Ruto has paraded several ODM legislators as a show of his increasing support or a sign that he has penetrated the region where Jubilee performed dismally in the last poll.

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But Joho appears keen to regain his mojo and exploit his new-found friendship with Uhuru as a springboard for his ambitions after the end of his second and last term as governor. The governor has vowed to work with Ruto’s political enemies.

Political analysts say Joho stands as a sore thumb against the DP’s overtures in the region.

But they also aver that Joho is trying to regain his political space and the meetings with Uhuru could prove to be his launchpad for his post-2022 political plans.

“Joho and Governor Amason Kingi (Kilifi) should stick together, else we will be exposed to political opportunism by outsiders,” said lawyer Gunga Mwinga, a former Kaloleni MP.

Kingi has been leaning towards Ruto, signalling his desire not to play second fiddle to Joho in the region’s politics.

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“Coast MPs have become low hanging fruits. Those who have moved to Ruto’s camp should explain to the region what is their space there. Are they stakeholders of spectators?” posed Mwinga.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko says Joho and Kingi should ring-fence Coast vote base by bringing all leaders together and acting as its point men.
“Any leader seeking the Coast support should talk to our leaders Joho and Kingi. We will not just jump to other people’s bandwagon blindly,” said Ms Mboko. 

Mixed signals

In June, Joho hosted Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi at his Mombasa office where they pledged to work together.

On the other hand, Kingi has accompanied the DP on various trips in the Coast but also given conflicting signals from supporting secession of the Kenyan Coast to advocating the formation of a Coast-centric political party.

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The Kilifi governor denies falling out with Joho or supporting the DP’s presidential bid.

Besides Kingi, Malindi MP Owen Baya and Kilifi North’s Aisha Jumwa have rallied to Ruto’s side and openly declared their support for his 2022 presidential bid.

Ruto’s forays in the region have rattled Joho and NASA leader Raila, who have termed

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President Uhuru KenyattaGovernor Hassan JohoJoho and Uhuruwilliam ruto