Mombasa, Kenya: Wrangles have erupted within the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) following the removal of all Mombasa South Coast branch officials in controversial polls they termed illegal.
The ejected officials, led by vocal CIPK chairman for South Coast Sheikh Amir Banda, denounced the polls and accused the national office based in Mombasa of orchestrating a coup at the behest of the Government.
The South Coast branch of the CIPK based in Kwale County has been at loggerheads with the national office over the latter's close ties with the Jubilee administration. The South Coast branch is perceived to support the opposition CORD, but both groups deny political ties.
In early 2013, the national CIPK office declared support for the Jubilee presidential candidate and late last year the Government appointed CIPK national official Sheikh Mohamed Dor as Kenya's new High Commissioner to Oman.
Banda told The Standard yesterday that he and his allies would not relinquish their seats, claiming their alleged ouster on Tuesday was politically motivated even as the national office declared their removal was final.
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"As you know, we have been fierce critics of Jubilee Government while our Mombasa office, which is the headquarters, has been leaning towards the Government. We don't recognise the elections held and if they want, we will have two councils," Banda told The Standard in an exclusive interview.
Banda who was a nominated civic leader under the grand coalition, claimed the Mombasa office hand-picked sycophants and claimed it had held elections.
He said it was troubling to see that no cleric perceived to be vocal was elected in the said elections.
But CIPK national office refuted claims that the polls were rigged or that the ruling coalition interfered with them.
Speaking to The Standard on phone, CIPK national chairman Abdallah Ateka and his organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa said the sentiments on political affiliations were far-fetched.
Ateka accused the Kwale officials of not respecting the national leaders, a trend he alleged started when he was the vice-chairperson.
But when asked why the national office has not held its elections, Ateka said: "We were doing elections for the counties first before those elected participate in national. We are also looking for funds and once we get will elect new officials for the next five years."