Wednesday’s elections in Mozambique have split Kwale County's Makonde community down the middle.
A faction of the community — which has lived in Kenya for more than 45 years — declared they would take part in the elections by casting their votes.
The differences have emerged even as the community’s chairperson, Thomas Nguli, struggles to have them registered as Kenyan citizens.
On Tuesday, Mr Nguli distanced himself from the group that wants to take part in the elections, describing them as “a few misguided elements’.’
Two polling centres have been set up in Ukunda, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga in the South Coast.
Mr Nguli said that he represents a group of over 3,000 people who are all against the idea of taking part in the Mozambique general election.
“We are not part of those who want to take part in the election because we do not have anywhere else to go apart from Kenya, which we recognise as our home country,” he said.
The chairperson expressed disappointment following the sudden change of heart among some members, saying that a consensus had earlier been reached that they would not take part in the election.
He added that even as the few members cast their votes Wednesday, there would be a meeting at Makongeni in Msambweni Sub-County to discuss the way forward.
“Our stand is still the same. We are not going to take part in that election and for that matter we are going to have a very big meeting to address our feelings to the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, Salim Awadh, the chairman of the county assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, urged the community to boycott the election.
Mr Awadh, who addressed journalists in Kwale Town, cautioned that by taking part in the election, the community would jeopardise efforts to have them registered as Kenyans.
“My plea is that they should not take part in the election because by doing so they will interfere with the whole process to register them as Kenyans which is ongoing,” he said.
Mr Awadh, who is also the Kinango ward representative, asked the Makonde to be patient as the committee was working on their issue.
He expressed his fears that if the community voted then their action would lower the dignity of the committee by supporting people who want to have dual citizenship.
“The report included both the Makonde and Pemba. We are almost through with the Pemba, but it seems the Makonde want to go against what we had agreed on,” he said.
According to intelligence reports, the government is fully aware of the voting exercise, which will take place in Ukunda, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga, though it could not give the exact locations where polling will take place.