Jubilee Party leaders at the Coast have strongly opposed the calls for secession championed by two local governors and 16 lawmakers.
On Friday, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi, Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo and 15 lawmakers said they had started talks to ensure secession succeeds in protest against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s continued leadership.
The leaders are affiliated with Nasa. They said they would use all legal means available, both local and international, to achieve their goal.
But on Sunday, Jubilee leaders from the region led by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala rejected the clamour for secession, terming it a recipe for chaos.
Mr Balala said the two governors and the 16 lawmakers were pushing for a dangerous agenda, warning that the secession talk had already caused tension in Mtwapa, Kilifi County.
“Shortly after the governors and the lawmakers pushed for secession on Friday, some Coastal people at Mtwapa started invading private land owned by upcountry people,” he said.
“The government had to deploy four trucks of police to contain the land invasion which was triggering chaos at Mtwapa.”
Addressing a press conference at Mombasa Beach Hotel on Sunday, Mr Balala told off the governors and lawmakers pushing for autonomy, saying their mission could cause insecurity in the region.
“Secession might cause a disaster at the Coast as local people might start to clash with upcountry people, thereby causing bloodshed,” he warned.
Mr Balala termed the secession talk as anti-devolution, adding that it would undermine the devolution system of government.
“Secession is a myopic, exclusionary, intolerant and populist means to realising a parochial agenda that adds no development value,” he said.
“The answer to marginalisation is not secession, but visionary leadership and strengthening devolved system of government.”
Mr Balala claimed Mr Joho and Mr Kingi had resorted to push for secession to divert people’s attention from the questions of accountability they are facing.
“The two governors want to distract public attention from the negligence and incompetence of the two counties. The two have become tycoons since the advent of devolution,” he claimed.
Mr Balala said the two governors want to push the Coast into sultanate rule, warning that the colonial governance would marginalise locals further.
The Cabinet secretary defended the devolved system of government, saying in the last four years the devolved units had improved roads, education, water and healthcare for the benefit of residents.
He noted that the Jubilee administration had also implemented development projects such as the expansion of the Port of Mombasa, the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway, the ongoing Lamu port project and construction of roads.
The government, he added, had also been addressing the squatter problem by allocating land to thousands of residents and issuing them with title deeds.
Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya called on Coast residents to oppose the call for self-governance as it would cause tension.
Mr Mvurya claimed that Mr Joho and Mr Kingi want to undermine devolution at a time when it is improving lives of Coast residents.
“We need to work with other Kenyans. The secession talk has already triggered tension in the region. We must reject secession for peace to prevail at the Coast,” he said.
Former Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro opposed the independence talk, saying it had caused land invasion in various parts of Kilifi County.
“It should be noted that the Mombasa Republican Council pushed for secession and they failed to achieve their goal. Therefore the two governors and the 16 lawmakers are fighting a losing battle,” he said.
Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani said the secession talk is inciting locals against other people.
“Already there is tension across the region as some locals are hatching a plot to kick out upcountry people. We don’t want bloodshed to occur. The secession talk must end,” he warned.
Former governor Hussein Dado said Coast people were content with the unitary government, adding that secession would divide locals and upcountry people.
“We don’t want people living at the Coast to go after each other’s throats. Therefore, the two governors and the lawmakers should rescind their secession demands,” he added.
Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu warned that the push for autonomy would cause insecurity and adversely affect tourism and other economic activities.
He termed the secession talk dangerous and counterproductive.