Governor Amason Kingi removed as ODM chairperson in Kilifi as Raila claims betrayal

Raila Odinga (L) claims Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi (R) has not been loyal to ODM lately. [File, Standard]

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has been removed as the chairperson of ODM in the county, party leader Raila Odinga has told The Standard.

In an exclusive interview, Odinga said on phone that Kingi has been replaced in an acting capacity by Ganze Member of Parliament (MP) Teddy Mwambire.

Odinga accuses the county chief of “betraying” him and the party.

Kingi has been at the forefront in pushing for a political outfit that would bring on board politicians from the Coastal region in a bid to have a big voice in the 2022 General Election.

“Kingi is not the first [politician] to run away from ODM, neither is he is the first person to betray me,” said the Orange Democratic Movement leader.

“I’m used to being backstabbed. Kingi has no solutions to the problems facing the Coastal people. I’m thinking power has gone into his head,” he said.

According to the ODM leader, Kingi has enjoyed political success because of his (Kingi’s) affiliation to him.

Odinga says he treated Kingi as his own son, and held his hand politically, including appointing him as the Minister for Fisheries during the grand coalition government.

“I was [a popular political figure] in Kilifi long before Kingi shot to political fame. Had I not appointed him as a minister, probably no one would have known about him [politically],” said Odinga.

This marks the first time Odinga has publicly criticised the governor, who has been a staunch ODM supporter in the last nine years.

The Standard understands that three weeks ago, Odinga began scouting for a crop of new leaders to take over from the outgoing county bosses as his point-men in Coast.

In Mombasa, Raila Odinga is said to have identified Mvita MP Abdullswamad Sheriff Nassir and businessman Suleiman Shahbal as his rooters. In Taita Taveta County, the incumbent governor, Granton Samboja, would be ODM’s point-man, while Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana would protect ODM’s interests in the county. In Kilifi County, the man to shield and champion ODM’s agenda is Teddy Mwambire.

Kingi, who is serving a second and final term as governor, has, since 2018, been pushing for a united political outfit in Coast, that would send representatives to the big boys’ negotiating table when it comes to discussing national politics.

“I have no personal problem with Kingi,” said Odinga, adding: “If he wants to leave, he is free to do so. I have already asked ODM officials in Kilifi to ratify the decision appointing Mwambire as the interim chairperson.”

Mwambire, who spoke to The Standard on Tuesday, August 10, said he was “honoured” to be appointed the county chairperson of ODM.

“Kingi, [whom I’m replacing], is yet to officially leave ODM. I’m ready and eager to handle the chairperson’s responsibilities should he vacate. I hear he wants to leave ODM,” said Mwambire.

Kingi’s close allies are said to have registered a new political party called Pamoja Alliance (PAA) on July 30, 2021.

The party received a provisional certificate from the Registrar of Political Parties’ office.

Kingi has, however, been facing an uphill task in convincing other leaders to join him in the said-new formation.

The Standard reached Kingi for comment, but he wasn’t immediately available.

An MCA allied to Kingi said they are yet to know which political party the governor’s heart rests in.

In Kilifi County, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Kilifi North counterpart, Owen Baya, are some of the leaders who have since bolted from ODM and shifted their loyalty to Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Party.

Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo and Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi remain loyal to ODM, saying the party was still popular in the county.

Raila Odinga insists Kingi was “misadvised to leave ODM”.

On March 3 this year, during a BBI promotion campaign in Ganze, Kilifi County, Governor Kingi challenged Odinga to explain why he was “opposed to the idea of Coastal leaders forming a joint party”.

Kingi further clarified that the region was not forming a regional party but an alliance of already-registered national parties dedicated to uplifting the Coast.

“When I received an invitation to this rally, I was happy you (Raila Odinga) were coming to popularise BBI,” Kingi said.

“During your recent tour of Taita Taveta County, I was surprised when you said the [Coast] region isn’t ready for a political party.

“If you start discussing the party issue [here today], then BBI will come second. I know what the law says, and we cannot be barred from forming a regional party.”

Kingi said there was no political party without a base, and asked why Odinga remained silent when other regions such as Western and Eastern were coming together to forge alliances.