The contest for the Coast vote ahead of the 2022 elections has intensified with the region’s MPs set to host Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday.
The meeting comes just days after the ODM party threatened to take disciplinary action against its members who have endorsed Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.
In what could be seen as daring the party and its leader, Mr Raila Odinga, Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Suleiman Dori has invited the DP for an Iftar dinner Saturday, barely a week after the party’s Deputy Leader, Mr Hassan Joho invited Mr odinga for a similar ceremony.
“Jambo. Kindly receive invitation for iftar on Sunday at Ukunda show ground. The speeches will start at 3pm. Chief guest will be H.E. DP Hon. William Ruto. Thank you,” reads the invitation sent to the Nation by the MP.
NASA NO MORE
Mr Ruto confirmed he had been invited while in Kwale for the World Environment Day when he told residents he would be meeting them again in a couple of days. Mr Ruto is expected in the region next week to launch the Sh2.5 billion Vanga-Jego-Majoreni to Bodo-Ramisi-Shimoni road, an official business that is usually tinged with local and national politics.
The news came as one of ODM’s partner parties in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) in the last general election – Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC – said it was focusing on new affiliations ahead of 2022.
He said the party will be mobilising from the grassroots to take over leadership in 2022.
“As far as we are concerned as ANC, Nasa is not there any more and perhaps in future you are bound to see other affiliations,” said the party’s Secretary-General, Mr Barack Muluka.
And the party’s coast organising secretary Basil Mwakiringo, said: “As part of the ANC leadership in the region, and gathered here in Mombasa, we fully support and endorse the merge of ANC and Ford Kenya as we plan to take over the leadership of this great nation in 2022.”
The party is in negotiations with Mr Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya — the other Nasa partner party — for a merger following a bitter falling out over Mr Odinga’s January 30 parallel swearing in as the people’s president and, subsequently, his March 9 handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr Mwakiringo further said that they have already in motion various programmes that are aimed at strengthening the governance systems, raising leadership in all parts of the country and driving a clear transformation agenda for Kenyans.
Mr Muluka said that political party affiliations come and go.
“We had intended to continue forging ahead as Nasa even after the elections but Raila Odinga started acting secretively such that it was hard to understand his way of doing things concerning the coalition,” he said.
Mr Dori, until recently a close ally of Mr Odinga’s pointman in the region, Mr Hassan Joho, led a section of leaders from ODM in announcing their support for Mr Ruto whom they described as “a development-conscious” leader.
Others were Kwale senator Issa Boy, MPs Benjamin Tayari (Kinango), Badi Twalib (Jomvu) and Ali Mbogo (Kisauni) who also said Mr Ruto was in his schedule for a harambee event expected next week in his sub-county.
Mr Twalib has also vowed to accompany Mr Ruto on his tour planned for the region later in the month.
On Wednesday, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said the Opposition party, through its appropriate organs, would consider disciplinary action against members should they persist in their contempt of party resolutions and directions. He said those who have declared they will back Mr Ruto are in breach of the institution’s resolutions. The party, he said is focused on the building bridges initiative spearheaded by Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta.
Coastal MPs have since given the threats a deaf ear and vowed to continue with their support for Mr Ruto.
The shifting of allegiance by some of the opposition leaders has come as a setback to Mr Joho, who has also declared his interest in the presidency.
Mr Joho has on several occasions said that he will be the first leader from the region to clinch the top seat, a quest Mr Dori termed as “unrealistic”.
“We will not accept to continue being lied to. The 1.7 million votes from this region cannot allow our own to become a president. What we need to do is to work with leaders who we know have the capacity to go for the seat and that is none other than the DP,” said Mr Dori the erstwhile Mr Joho ally.
On the other hand, Mr Joho has also been hit by another blow after Kilifi governor Amason Kingi who was his close friend and former fellow pointman at the Coast ditched him for Mr Ruto.
Mr Kingi’s move has been welcomed by his Kwale counterpart, Mr Salim Mvurya, who said Mr Kingi will help in consolidating the votes for the ruling part ahead of 2022.
Mr Mvurya has been one of the key leaders campaigning for Jubilee at the Coast but with the coming of Mr Kingi, he said will get more support and have Mr Ruto succeed President Kenyatta.