Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho reiterated on Saturday that he will vie for the presidency in 2022, crowding the list of possible candidates in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), whose leader is Raila Odinga.
The announcement by Governor Joho, who is ODM deputy leader, came after that of Siaya Senator James Orengo, who said Mr Odinga will vie once again for the presidency in the next general election.
Speaking on Saturday during an opinion leaders' meeting at Wild Waters in Mombasa, Mr Joho said people doubting his resolve should understand that he will not relent.
“When I first announced my bid, people thought I was joking but now the tide is clear," he told the meeting of more than 1,000 leaders.
"This time if I fail, I will fail at the presidential ballot. The train has left the station and there's no looking back."
The governor went on to note that he and Kilifi governor Amason Kingi declared their positions "a long time ago".
"The journey has now begun. I assure you that I will be in the race," he said. "The success of my ambition will, however, largely depend on your support as your son in this region."
Mr Joho said that as a national figure, he has already drawn a full plan that will see him traverse the country in search of votes.
His hopes are also for the 1.7 million votes at the Coast.
“I have the capability of going around the country to campaign so those who think a person from the coast is unable to win the presidency must think again. I will be in the race and I will be unstoppable until the last count on the ballot,” he said.
The governor said no leader can purport to speak on behalf of Coast residents without consulting them.
"Such a leader is a liar who cannot be trusted. This, again, is the reason we have called you here so that you can give your views on the future of Coast unity for documentation,” he said.
“Apart from embracing the national handshake, we must also have our own Coast handshake and forge ahead in development. Leadership has responsibilities. We need each other as we push for unity,” he added.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said the coast can only implement its economic and political agenda through unity, not politics of deceit and hatred.
“I have listened keenly to what has been said and my take is very clear: we can only achieve the ambitions of this region through unity of purpose," he said.
Mr Kingi said those who attended the meeting to represent the interests of non-local leaders are not part of them, but hurdles in the achievement of their dreams.
“It will be hard to achieve all these dreams, including the presidential ambition, if we are here today but representing the likes of Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. That is not the unity we want."
Delegates who attended the meeting were from Lamu, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Tana River.
Among them were lawmakers Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango), Zuleikha Hassan (Kwale Woman Representative), Asha Hussein (Mombasa Woman Representative.
Others were Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi and Senators Mohamed Faki (Mombasa), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Isaa Juma Boy (Kwale).
Regarding the referendum, Governor Kingi said the region will only support the call if issues affecting locals are addressed.
“We have the land problem that has not gone away since independence yet no one is ready to address it. Let us use the call for a referendum to have this issue addressed,” he said.
The leaders resolved to set the agenda for the region's economic empowerment.
They want proceeds from exploitation of local resources shared with counties. Such resources, they said, include those from the Kilindini port and the Maumba-based Base Titanium company in Kwale county.
Regarding 2022, they said the region will decide, at the right time, on the best 'political vehicle' to use in 2022.
Deputy President William Ruto and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua also want to vie in 2022.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also an ODM deputy party leader, said in May he will also go for the top seat, meaning the party will have at least three aspirants.