After months of a strained relationship, Governors Hassan Ali Joho (Mombasa) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi) yesterday sealed a deal with Coast MCAs to unite the region.
Mr Joho and Mr Kingi met 175 out of the 206 MCAs in Mombasa and declared that they were ready to listen to proposals for the formation of a Coast political party to chart the region’s political future. There were reports that an MP from Kwale paid MCAs Sh8,000 each to boycott yesterday’s meeting, but they still went to Mombasa.
Joho backed calls for political unity but also clarified that any decision that he, Kingi and other leaders would reach would be determined by the popular will of Coast residents.
He said: “It is still too early to launch campaigns for 2022. When the right time comes we could also join that race.”
The two county chiefs have declared interest in the presidency, but have appeared to drift apart since the March 9 handshake.
While Joho has drawn closer to President Uhuru Kenyatta and openly supported the handshake, Kingi seems to be warming up to Deputy President William Ruto.
Kingi has also shown lukewarm support for the rapprochement between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
But yesterday the two leaders peppered over their perceived differences and claimed they were united. They accused the media of sowing discord among leaders. They also resolved to revive the regional economic integration bloc, Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP). They will also push the national government to devolve ports and harbours, and other national resources to coastal counties.
They termed the Uhuru-Raila handshake as an opportunity for the region to push for economic agenda.
“We will listen and consult widely but the political unity for our people is what we will strive for,” said Joho when asked whether the search for political unity will culminate in the formation of a Coast political party as suggested by some MCAs in the forum.
Kingi, who has been leading the push for Coast political unity, said any decision to form a party would be people driven.
“We have identified reasons for past failures and we are consulting widely. It is the people who will tell us whether that is the way to go,” said Kingi.
Joho has in the past insisted that he will vie for the presidency in 2022 on an ODM ticket.
Kingi said religious leaders, youth and women leaders would be roped in.
Yesterday, the two leaders said the Coast must be united to have negotiating power as regions align themselves ahead of the 2022 polls.
Joho said he had not differed with Kingi, adding that they were reaching out to governors of Kwale, Tana River, Taita Taveta and Lamu. But the two leaders stressed the need for the region’s MCAs, MPs, senators and governors to unite under the JKP economic bloc.
“We don’t have to work with senior politicians not ready to unite the people. We will work with majority leaders,” said Joho.