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Gloves come off in race to secure Mombasa top seat

By Patrick Beja | Oct 31st 2021 | 3 min read

A section of Mombasa politicians led by Governor Hassan Joho join ODM Leader Raila Odinga in a dance an ODM Rally at Caltex Grounds in Mombasa County on Thursday March 4, 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Two rivals in the race to succeed Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho have engaged in a bare-knuckle fight as they jostle for the ODM ticket.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and banker Suleiman Shahbal have branded each other “projects” of certain tycoons keen to control the port city’s politics and economy.

Nassir also wants Joho to keep off the succession politics because he cannot purport to be neutral given his ties with Shahbal.

“Most of the governor’s former employees are now working at Shahbal’s campaign secretariat. Shahbal won deals worth billions of shillings at the county,” said Nassir.

This is the first time Nassir has gone for the jugular, declaring “I’m only loyal to the people of Mombasa and ODM party leader Raila Odinga”.

Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony for Mekatilili wa Menza Girls Secondary School in Mvita, Nassir said Joho should not take sides in the race.

Shahbal buried the hatchet with Joho two years ago following the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

He won the Sh6 billion Buxton Housing tender. The project is currently subject of litigation and investigation by two parliamentary committees.

Shahbal and Joho have defended the deal saying it was above board.

Shahbal’s campaign team comprises former Kisauni MP Rashid Bedzimba and Major (Rtd) Abdirahman Idris, who are the governor’s allies.

‘Hiding behind veil’

Shahbal has said Nassir was a project of certain politicians and business-people but was “hiding behind the veil of being loyal to ODM and Raila”.

“My friend Abdulswamad is a project of certain politicians and businessmen. He cannot tell me he is loyal. I reject this project,” Shahbal said, adding that Mombasa residents wanted a leader to unite them, create jobs, provide education, water and end insecurity, “not a mere loyalist”.

“I have done a lot in business and I am grateful. I want to be governor because I believe I can unite the people and transform the economy of Mombasa. I lost in 2013 because I was a political novice and again in 2017 because I was in the wrong party,” said Shahbal, who defected to ODM in June.

Stood by Raila

Nassir said he had invested in the people and stood by Raila.

“I have invested in humanity. Love me or hate me, I will be your governor,” he said.

Nassir was accompanied by Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Raphael Wanjala (Budalang’i), Nairobi County Woman Representative Esther Passaris and Lagdera MP Mohamed Hire.

“Abdulswamad has no time for sideshows. Shahbal has just rented a house and cannot compete with the owner,” Mboko said in reference to the governorship succession race.

Also seeking ODM ticket to run for governorship is Mombasa deputy governor Dr William Kingi.

Former Mombasa senator Hassan Omar is set to contest the governor’s seat on a United Democratic party (UDA) ticket while Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo will run on a Wiper ticket.

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