What Mike Sonko's return means to competitors

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (right ) with his running mate Ali Mbogo outside Milimani Law Courts. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A court’s decision to allow Mike Sonko to contest for Mombasa governor seat has triggered heightened politics at the Coast, barely 26 days to elections. 

Last evening, Sonko said he was still extracting the orders issued by a three-bench judge at the Mombasa Court before he heads to the electoral body for clearance.

Political observers say Sonko’s candidature will muddy the waters for Abdulswamad Nassir, the Mvita MP, who is also ODM governor candidate,  who has been under the shadow of outgoing governor Hassan Joho.

Sonko is today expected to join the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition’s presidential candidate’s rally in Mombasa, two months after he was blocked by his opponents from accessing a similar event at Mkomani Grounds in Nyali, Mombasa.

Tell-tale signs that Sonko is now in good books with Raila came on Tuesday when pictures of the two standing together emerged in social media. Earlier, Sonko also attended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s function at Embakasi East in Nairobi.

Other candidates out to succeed Joho are former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar Sarai of United Democratic Alliance (UDA), and deputy governor Dr William Kingi of Pamoja African Alliance(PAA).

Former Nyali MP Hezron Awiti Bollo of Vibrant Democratic Party (VDP), Shafi Makazi of Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA) and Daniel Munga Kitsao (independent) are also in the race. “The whole county has gone into a frenzy with jubilation unforeseen in many election circles. It will arouse Nassir campaigns,” said Mbwana Abdalla.

Abdalla, an independent political analyst, says Sonko is a mobiliser and will help encourage Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition supporters to vote on August 9.

“This man fetched more than 800,000 votes in Nairobi, which had 1.5 million odd votes in the 2017 election. Mombasa is a small county that he can turn around in two weeks,” said Abdalla.

Mombasa politicians like Likoni MP Mishi Mboko and Abdulswamad have, however, criticised Sonko’s candidature, saying Mombasa is not the “dumping site for rejected politicians”.

But Sonko has always touted the battle in Mombasa to be between him and the “Joho dynasty”. Joho and banker Suleiman Shahbal are backing Nassir.

Mr Julius Ogogoh, the Executive Director of Commission for Human Rights and Justice, which is involved in security sensitisation exercises in Mombasa, says Sonko is Azimio’s dark horse capable of bringing it votes.

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

“But all we ask is that election campaigns be peaceful and people come out to vote. It’s true there was voter apathy in Mombasa, but we hope Sonko’s entry will excite the masses to vote,” said Ogogoh. 

Entertainment and property magnet Francis Mulinge says Sonko is able to capture Mombasa voters because of his promise to lower the cost of doing business if elected.

“Even if he loses on August 9, he would have helped to suppress the belief that the up-country votes have no chance to run in Mombasa elections,” said Mulinge.

Sonko’s running mate Ali Mbogo said the entry of the former Nairobi governor into the Mombasa politics will lead to true competition and a sign of entrenched democracy locally.

He said their opponents used all the tricks, including compromising high profile persons, to bar them from being in the ballot. 

“We are prepared to bring the change Mombasa residents have been clamouring for. With Sonko and I, the residents should expect good leadership pegged on their needs,” he said.

On the concerns that they have less than 25 days to woo voters, Mr Mbogo said they planned to embark on strenuous campaigns in the next three weeks “that will shake this town.”

“It was a tough battle but we finally won it. We are happy with the judiciary for standing firm in protecting the Constitution,” said Wiper Mombasa branch chairman Sheikh Omar Twaha.

He said some people with vested interests were out to block Sonko because of their previous poor leadership in Mombasa County.