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Raila axe lands on Kingi as ODM puts Coast 'rebels' on notice

ODM leader Raila Odinga [right] listens to Kilifi County Governor Amason Kingi during a Building Bridges Initiative meeting at Wildwaters in Mombasa on January 24, 2020. [Omondi Onyango, Standard

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi became the first casualty as ODM leader Raila Odinga moved to reorganise his troops at the Coast.  

Raila cracked the whip against 'rebel' members still holding party’s positions in what he described as a process to rejuvenate ODM.

Yesterday, the ODM chief said Governor Kingi has been replaced as the Kilifi County party chairman. Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire takes up the position in an acting capacity.

In an interview, Raila described Kingi’s push to establish a Coast-political party as “betrayal from a person I raised to fame."

“Kingi is not the first to run away from ODM or to betray me. I’m used to (such) back-stabbings. He has no solutions to the problems facing Coast people,” said the former Prime Minister.

He said he built Kingi politically, and appointed him minister during the grand coalition government. “I was in Kilifi long before Kingi shot into the political limelight. Had I not appointed him a minister probably no one would have known him,” Raila said on Sunday.

This is the first time the ODM leader, who opposes the establishment of a Coast-based party, has publicly criticised Kingi who has been a staunch ODM supporter in the last decade.

“I’ve no personal problem with Kingi. If he wants to leave ODM, it is okay. I have told the Kilifi branch officials to ratify the decision to appoint Mwambire the interim chair,” said the ODM leader.

Reacting to Raila’s decision yesterday, Kingi said: "I welcome the decision by ODM  to replace me as the Kilifi County chairman. I thank ODM and the party leader for giving me the opportunity to serve.’’

Wring on his Twitter account, the governor said during his tenure, he steered ODM to great success and made sure  it became the dominant party in the county. He said in the last General Election, Kilifi County became the only county to deliver what he called a clean sweep. 

"I hope and pray that the incoming chair and his team will match and/or break this sterling record. I wish the party the very best not just in Kilifi County but across the country as it prepares  for the 2022 elections,’’ Kingi twetted.

Raila has been scouting for a new crop of trusted allies to take over from outgoing governors at the Coast region.

He has identified Mvita MP Abdulswamand Nassir and businessman Suleiman Shahbal (Mombasa), Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja, Kilifi's Mwambire and Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana among others.

Since 2018, Kingi has been pushing for the formation of a new outfit or a coalition of existing fringe parties at the Coast. He believes Coast should unite under a party and negotiate with others.

Kingi's replacement comes days after the Kilifi ODM youth league chairman Samir Nyundo reportedly resigned last week. Yesterday, Mwambire said he will take over the position, terming it an honor.

He said ODM officials wishing to leave the party were free to do so since the outfit is reorganising itself ahead of the next elections.

Some local leaders criticised Kingi over alleged indecisiveness. "We are kept in the dark. He tells us that he has registered a political party but he is yet to unveil it or tell us the way forward," said an MCA close to Kingi. The Governor did not pick our phone calls.

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Kilifi North counterpart Owen Baya who were elected on ODM  have shifted their allegiance to Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA.

Kilifi Senator Stewards Madzayo and Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi remain loyal to ODM. They have insisted that the Orange party is popular in the region.

“The ODM party is a Kilifi people’s party,” said Madzayo. Saburi said the party’s support was intact and those who left the party were now struggling to come back.   

The ouster of Kingi came barely days after Kakamega Deputy Governor Philip Kutima was also kicked out as ODM chairman in Kakamega County.

Kutima was kicked out by delegates in what sources say is power play in Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s succession matrix. Oparanya is said to be fronting another candidate other than his deputy.

ODM chairman John Mbadi said that the party has to revamp its structures ahead of the polls. “We are revamping the party by filling vacant positions,” said Mbadi.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said grassroots elections were ongoing across the country to fill up positions left vacant by those who have either quit the party or died. The party National Executive Council last week announced that the grassroots elections had kicked off in upper eastern region. 

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