ODM leader Raila Odinga and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi. [Courtesy]

The announcement that the Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) would back Raila Odinga’s presidential bid has sparked a debate among leaders.

Last week, Governor Amason Kingi endorsed the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader as his preferred presidential candidate in the 2022 general election but requested that ODM should not field candidates in Kilifi.

Kilifi County ODM chairman and Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire have now claimed the announcement caused confusion.

Yesterday, Mwambire, who took over as ODM chairman after Governor Kingi was dropped from the position, said PAA should be prepared to compete for political seats with ODM as none will be reserved for it as the governor demanded.

Umoja Summit Party of Kenya (USPK) chairman Matano Chengo and his Kadu Asili counterpart Joshua Kombora claimed it was pointless for Governor Kingi to declare support for Raila’s presidential bid before signing a pre-election pact with him.

“It is hard for Kingi to negotiate on behalf of the Coast people and sign a pre-election agreement because he has already publicly backed Raila unconditionally,” said Chengo.

He noted that Coast parties were focused on achieving unity of the region before they could go into a political coalition with any leader.

Kombora said parties with roots from the Coast region were treating Kingi’s support for Raila as a personal stand since he has not consulted other parties and residents.

“Governor Kingi made a personal statement, and he has a right to do so. He has acted unilaterally because he has not consulted us. He can go to Raila with a coalition agreement as Kingi and PAA, but we are not part of that political deal,” Kombora said.

A similar position was shared by Shirikisho Party of Kenya (SPK) secretary-general Adam Mbeto who claimed Governor Kingi and PAA were working alone.

But PAA national chairman Ibrahim Khamis alias Babangida said, although the party leadership has not made a formal deal with Raila, it was considering taking that political route.

Babangida hinted that PAA could soon enter into a formal engagement with ODM and told other political parties from the Coast region to wait for the outcome.

“There is no formal engagement yet on Raila’s presidential bid. But it is a political direction we are considering to take,” Babangida said.

Mwambire claimed Governor Kingi was getting confused after he left ODM and appeared to be slowly coming back to the party with unrealistic conditions for supporting Raila.

“He should know that Kilifi County is firmly an ODM zone. He should join us and campaign for Raila at the national level unconditionally,” Mwambire said.

He said that it was only in ODM where Coast region interests such as land reforms could be addressed and not PAA that Kingi founded recently.

He noted PAA party lacked the political muscle and goodwill to tackle Coast issues.

PAA party got a registration certificate on October 18 this year.

“What he is talking about right now amounts to confusion since all our local issues will be taken care of in ODM. People are already isolating him. By next year he will have lost his political charm after his term as governor ends,” Mwambire argued.

ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna rubbished the claims that PAA was contemplating launching talks with Azimio la Umoja and ODM for a possible coalition, saying that the Kingi was desperately seeking relevance after his retirement next year.

“Kilifi is an ODM county, and we will field candidates in all elective positions. Those people talking of a party called PAA are ODM members who anticipated defeat in party primaries and chickened out,” said Sifuna.