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Coast endorses Raila, but gives tough demands

COAST
By Willis Oketch and Joackim Bwana | September 19th 2021

Mombasa politician, Suleiman Shahbal addresses ODM party delegates at Wildwaters in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga's march to State House yesterday received a major boost after five governors from Coast including Mombasa's Hassan Joho backed his presidential bid.

After a five-hour meeting, governors from ODM and Wiper led over 600 ODM delegates and supporters from other parties to declare their support for Raila's 2022 presidential bid.

But the leaders tabled a raft of demands among them a guarantee that Coast will get Internal Security and Foreign Affairs Cabinet posts. It wants a legally binding pre-election deal with Raila. 

Governor Joho bowed out of the presidential race and resolved to lead the negotiation for a pre-election agreement which he said: "must be legal and acceptable to the Coast people as partners."

"In the deal, we will clearly state how Coast will benefit. How it will be represented in the next government," said Joho who added he had listed and accepted what the Coast people want.

"I have listened and heard what people are saying. But I want to make it clear that we are not looking for someone to follow, but a partner and Raila is the right person," said Joho.

Raila agreed to partner with Coast leaders to end historical land injustices, extrajudicial killings and other forms of marginalisation. "I'm also looking for partners and not followers," he said.

"Discard the diseases of good old days. Things will not remain the same. We must look for new opportunities," he told MPs who complained about the effects of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

He said the Coast lost Sh 22.6 billion after the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was annulled but promised to continue to fight for more resources for the counties.

"It is true that some steps have in the recent past been made to address the historical injustices in the Coast but a lot needs to be done," said Raila.

Joho described Raila as being a "safe pair of hands" for the Coast given his track record in the fight against  extrajudicial killings, historical land injustices and marginalisation.

Joho said unlike in the past, Coast leaders will negotiate a pre-election agreement with Raila that will make them equal partners in the next government. 

"This time we will not be followers but partners. We will not request Raila to do for us something but we will be sitting with him to tell him what we want," said Joho.

It was clear that Joho would back down after all leaders from the six counties vowed to support Raila's presidential bid in what others described as a "Mandela moment."

"We declare that the Coast region will support Raila Odinga as our next president because of his past and current position on the social and economic development of the Coast," states the first resolution read by Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo.

The leaders also want the collapsed factories in the region revived. The development of Shimo Fishing Port and Lamu Port to be hastened to provide jobs for the Coast.

"We also demand the development of the Special Economic Zone in Mombasa, land injustices addressed and extrajudicial killings investigated," said the leaders.

Mvita MP Abdulswad Nassir said the Coast has resolved to support Raila despite having its own son in the race because the ODM leader has proved himself to be a reformer.

"Coast has benefited immensely through your leadership.

"Raila will defend what he has been fighting for. He has over the years fought against extrajudicial killings," said Nassir who wants to be Mombasa governor.

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