Despite talks, no deal in sight for Joho, Kingi and Mvurya

President Uhuru Kenyatta (center) with Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (left) Kwale's Salim Mvurya and Kilifi's Amason Kingi.

Questions have emerged on whether the much-touted unity among three Coastal governors is running into headwinds at its infancy.

The unity of purpose shown by governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Salim Mvurya (Kwale) when they met President Uhuru Kenyatta a fortnight ago appears to be waning.

Each of the three seem to be reading from different scripts as they search for the elusive unity in a region that has been the bedrock of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) for long.

Secret meetings

In the last one month, Joho and Kingi have held five meetings in Mombasa and Nairobi in what their allies claim are efforts to unite the 1.7 million-odd voters in Coast.

But hopes for any swift agreement between the three governors appeared bleak yesterday as they were planning their parallel meetings to champion their individual courses.

Kingi met the leadership of fringe parties in Coast on Friday to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition.

Reports also indicate Joho has convened a meeting of Coast MPs allied to him today to outline his plans to capture the ODM presidential ticket. 

An ODM MP from Kwale said Joho will also set the record straight over claims that he was backing the push for a Coast party, which he has in the past dismissed as a tribal grouping. 

"We will go and listen to him," said the MP who did not wish to be named.

Joho, Kingi and Mvurya are tight-lipped but their allies said further talks will include other elected leaders.

Held talks

On March 30, the three met in Kwale barely six days after holding talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi.

Later, Kingi was again at State House being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The finer details of these meetings remain a matter of conjecture but their allies claim the talks were about Coast unity threatened by supremacy battles between Joho and Kingi.

Coast political analysts and other elected leaders now say selfish interests and competing egos of factions allied to Joho and Kingi are major hurdles in the quest to unite Coast. 

Salim Ahmed, a PhD student in political science, said Joho and Kingi are unlikely to work together because each feel he should be the region's kingpin.

He said Kingi believes that position is his birthright because is the senior-most politician from populous Miji Kenda sub-tribe.

"Joho on the other hand sees himself as the senior-most politician from the region because of his position in ODM, which is the popular party in Coast," said Ahmed.

Abubakar Yusuf, a lawyer and political analyst, said Uhuru may have asked Mvurya to chair the talks between Joho and Kingi who have emerged as the main protagonists in Coast politics.

“It is highly inconceivable that Uhuru could support the idea of a Coast party.

"I think he dangled the deputy prime minister and ministerial posts and asked them to agree on who to take what,” he said.

Yusuf said Uhuru, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto will not support the Coast party because it might grow and become a rogue outfit.

Kadu Asili chair Gerald Thoya said his party had started talks with Kingi but the agenda was on strengthening it, not joining or collapsing it into a new outfit.

Yesterday, a section of MPs in Coast warned that the ego of Joho and Kingi has scuttled the initial noble plans by all local leaders to have an honest discussion about the region’s future.

“It will be laughable if the three governors think they can meet, agree on anything and drag us into it.

"I think they are planning their retirement,” said Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire.

Mwambire, who is the secretary of Coast Parliamentary Group, said Kingi’s plan to form a political party was time-barred.

Kaloleni MP Paul Katana said most elected leaders in the region were not concerned about Joho, Kingi and Mvurya meetings because their days in politics in Coast may be over.

Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo said he was not privy to the agenda of the meeting between Uhuru and the three governors but added that there was nothing wrong with it.

The deputy Minority Leader in the Senate said the Coast people were free to chart their own political path but added that the region was still firmly in ODM.

In February, Kingi declared that he will unveil a coalition of Coast-based fringe parties before the end of March but the deadline elapsed without any word from him or his allies.

Yesterday, Naomi Cidi, the Umoja Summit Party of Kenya party leader said her party was in consultation with another outfit and Kingi.

“The search for Coast unity and efforts to bring all Coast-based political parties together to speak with one voice was not a job for one man. We are on course,” said Cidi.

Cidi is Kingi’s ally.

Talks to unite factions allied to Joho and Kingi started on February 1, when the two leaders and their political allies met at a resort in Nyali, Mombasa.

On February 8, governors Kingi, Joho, Dhadho Godana (Tana River) and Twahim Twaha (Lamu) met at Governor Granton Samboja’s house in Taita Taveta.

End hostilities

The five agreed to end hostilities, shelve their 2022 ambitions and work together to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Coast.

Three days after the meeting, Kingi insisted he will go ahead with plans to establish a party before the end of March and said those opposed to the plan are enemies of the Coast people.

Mvurya and his deputy Fatuma Achani met Uhuru at State House in Nairobi three days before he accompanied Joho and Kingi to the meeting with the Head of State.

“I can tell you that Mvurya has been tasked with bringing Joho and Kingi together,” said a source close to Mvurya.

The source added that Kingi and Joho are yet to agree on which way to go.

[Additional reporting by Nehemiah Okwembah]