The death of Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori has set the stage for another fierce battle between Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.
As politicians in Kwale start jostling to replace him, it is expected that the rivalry between the two politicians will play out as it did in the Kibra by-election.
Mr Odinga will be fighting to prove his party’s dominance in the Coast region as he seeks to ensure Dori is replaced by an ODM candidate. Dr Ruto, on the other hand, will be seeking to prove that he has built clout in the region.
The DP’s visits to the region have seen a few MPs from the region coalesce around him, with the late Dori and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa seen as his playmakers.
Their pledge to support Dr Ruto’s presidential bid saw the two MPs threatened with suspension by their party.
Dori later toned down his campaigns for the DP in the region, especially in Kwale.
Following his demise, Dr Ruto has Ms Jumwa and Nyali MP Mohammed Ali in his camp. The death of Dori, political observers say, is a blow to the DP’s strategy of gaining numbers in the region.
Siaya Senator James Orengo, addressing mourners at the MP’s burial, said the will of the people of Msambweni will be respected.
“We will let the people decide and elect their MP who will fit in the shoes of Dori, because our party stands for democracy,” he said.
ODM chairman John Mbadi said he had been approached by several people seeking to be considered for the position.
“But the party will decide the next steps. As for now, we are mourning the death of our brother,” he said.
Ramisi Ward Rep Raia Mkungu asked Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani, who was elected on a Jubilee party ticket, to guide the constituency as voters seek to find Dori's replacement.
“We are asking Mr Mwashetani to be an interim leader in the constituency because they were very close and give us guidance,” he said.
Several potential candidates have shown interest in the seat, although a majority have not publicly announced their intention to vie.
The Sunday Nation has also learnt that secret meetings have been going on in search of suitable candidates.
Among those who have shown interest is ODM Kwale branch secretary-general Omar Boga, a bitter rival of the late MP.
Others include former Kinondo ward rep Juma Maone, Kwale Finance executive Bakari Sebe, Coast Development Authority director Mshenga Ruga and Kenya National Union of Teachers Msambweni branch secretary Bashir Kilalo, who vied in the last election.
Dori’s relatives and close friends are also pushing Mr Feisal Abdallah Bader, who was the late MP’s personal assistant, to vie.
Some of the community leaders who spoke during the burial ceremony urged the ODM party to consider someone from the family to replace Dori, the same way the late Kwale senator Juma Boy was replaced by his brother Issa Juma Boy.
“I know we are mourning, but at the same time, we are asking the party to consider Mr Bader, who was with the late MP in several functions and is well known,” said Mr Ali Mwasingwa.