The political unity between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has left a crack in the formerly united opposition at the Coast, with the region’s two political kingpins now pulling in different directions.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi, who have been the main opposition pointmen in the region and close allies, have failed to agree on the import of President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s political pact.
While Mr Joho has embraced the deal and even offered an olive branch to Jubilee leadership saying he is ready to work with President Kenyatta, Mr Kingi has indicated he is yet to understand its purpose.
Both Mr Joho and Mr Kingi, who are serving their second terms as governors, have expressed interest in the presidency in 2022.
Mr Joho is keen on trying his luck through ODM where he is the deputy party leader if his boss, Mr Odinga, does not vie; while Mr Kingi is rooting for the formation of a coast party.
The duo, who were elected on an ODM ticket and have been key defenders of the party, were always seen together in public meetings prior to the handshake.
They are, however, now rarely seen together with their last meeting having been when Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui toured Baricho Dam in Kilifi nearly a month ago.
While some of Mr Kingi’s allies have supported the formation of a coast party, with others like Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa rooting for Deputy President William Ruto to be president, Mr Joho’s lieutenants led by Likoni MP Mishi Mboko insist he is their favourite for the top seat.
Before the handshake, Mr Joho and Mr Kingi’s supporters spoke with one voice in a region that overwhelmingly voted for Nasa in last August polls and heeded Mr Odinga’s call to boycott the repeat presidential vote.
Mr Kingi and Mr Joho had indicated after the polls that they would sit and agree who between them should vie for the presidency in 2022.
Political commentator Nagib Shamsan said Mr Joho and Mr Kingi are drawing support from separate groups.
“Arabs and Mijikenda dominate Coast politics and have had bad blood because of several issues like land ownership. Many Mijikendas feel that the Arabs were responsible for their many land problems,” he said.