Opinion divided in Coast over Balala and Dor parties
Posted Saturday, October 20 2012 at 23:30
- The formation of Mr Balala’s RCP and Sheikh Dor’s UPK is the latest twist in the battle for the Coastal vote, seen in some quarters as having the potential to act as a swing vote due to the absence of serious home-grown presidential contenders
- While launching his RCP recently, the Mvita MP lamented the fact that he was attracting fierce criticism from local leaders who skipped the launch despite being invited
- In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Balala said his party would work with like-minded parties towards the elections but will prepare itself for future leadership after consolidating regional and national support
A major battle looms for the crucial Muslim vote at the Coast between former Tourism minister Najib Balala’s Republican Congress Party and nominated MP Sheikh Mohamed Dor’s United Party of Kenya.
Both parties are seen to have been formed with an eye firmly on securing the support of Coastal voters ahead of the next election.
But some analysts say the pair is also out to eventually form alliances with major national political parties before the General Election.
The formation of Mr Balala’s RCP and Sheikh Dor’s UPK is the latest twist in the battle for the Coastal vote, seen in some quarters as having the potential to act as a swing vote due to the absence of serious home-grown presidential contenders.
But critics say the new parties are not serious players. Mvita parliamentary aspirant Abdullswamad Nassir claims the launching of these parties was only a scheme to consolidate the Muslim bloc and later use it in negotiations with mainstream parties.
“Don’t be duped by these parties. They are formed to act as vehicles for future mergers with the mainstream parties when push comes to shove ahead of the elections,” he said.
His argument is that after realising that they might end up in political limbo ahead of the General Election, Mr Balala and Sheikh Dor decided to form these outfits with the sole aim of enticing political heavyweights.
He is of the view that the Balala party will eventually merge with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Party to attract the support of the substantial Kamba vote to aid Mr Balala’s bid for election as Mombasa County senator.
While launching his RCP recently, the Mvita MP lamented the fact that he was attracting fierce criticism from local leaders who skipped the launch despite being invited.
“Most of our home-grown political parties have been fought from within and even RCP will not escape this, but we have resolved to ensure it becomes the party to watch in the future,” he said.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Balala said his party would work with like-minded parties towards the elections but will prepare itself for future leadership after consolidating regional and national support.
“Right now our main agenda is to sell the party manifesto to the people of the Coast before spreading elsewhere to popularise the RCP.”
Mr Balala says he had invited all Coast leaders to the party but was not perturbed that they did not heed his call. He says RCP’s agenda revolves around five pillars of governance and devolution, equity and justice, leadership and values, security and cohesion and socio-economic development.
Political analysts are not surprised by the fragmented state of Coastal politics, saying the local leadership has been split since the Kanu-Kadu “war” for supremacy before and after Independence.
Political analyst Amin Mwidau notes that there has never been a leader or home-grown party that has commanded absolute following in the region.
“Coast has a very complex demographic unlike areas such as Nyanza, Central or lower Eastern where the primary interests of the ordinary people are viewed through the same lens,” he says.
The Mvita MP, according to Mr Mwidau, assumed the regional leadership due to his closeness to Prime Minister Raila Odinga but failed to capitalise on this to cultivate independent political networks with other leaders.
Last weekend, during United Republican Party public rally at Tononoka ground, Dujis MP Adan Duale told the Mvita MP to stop misleading the coastal people by forming regional parties that lacked grassroots support.