Coast Opposition MPs yesterday vowed to rally their supporters behind Deputy President William Ruto, saying they believe he will foster development in the region.
Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Suleiman Dori, who was elected on an ODM ticket, said he would lead MPs allied to the DP in joining the party he will use to vie for the presidency in 2022.
“I am now in ODM but come 2022 I will vie on the party DP Ruto will use to seek the presidency,” Mr Dori said, adding that unlike other former top government leaders it was only Mr Ruto who means well for the region.
Mr Dori led 14 MPs to declare their political stand during an interdenominational prayer cum-fund raising at Karisa Maitha grounds in Kilifi and which was attended by Mr Ruto.
The political rivalry between vocal Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Kilifi North MP Owen Baya over who should succeed Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi when his second term ends in 2022 also emerged with the self-proclaimed coast ‘Iron Lady' asking the first term MP to prepare for a ''tough battle.''
The debate over the seat was prompted by poet Suleiman Lugo who led the crowd in a chant proclaiming Mr Baya as Kingi's natural successor.
When Mr Baya, who was the host, invited Ms Jumwa to speak, she said: “We have agreed on all the other issues but the one that has just been recited will not be easy,” she said amid laughter from both the DP, guests and the crowd.
Already Mr Baya has announced that he will vie for the governor's seat top while Ms Jumwa's supporters have also indicated they want her in the race. Ms Jumwa, a former Kilifi woman rep abandoned the seat in last year’s polls and went for Malindi parliamentary seat which she won.
Mr Kingi who has been attending Mr Ruto’s events in the county kept off yesterday’s event at Karisa Maitha grounds but sent a county official to represent him
Mr Baya said the lack of a Mijikenda community member in Cabinet for the first time since independence had denied coast a share of the national cake.
The ODM MP said Coast residents would reward the DP by voting for him in 2022 if he ensures more locals were appointed to government parastatals and that more development projects were spread across the region.
“You have been a good friend of the region and any leader can attest to this because of your involvement. Today, I want to tell you that because of this good gesture, then we shall consider you in 2022,” said Mr Baya.
Ms Jumwa said: “In fact getting slots for people like Gideon Mung’aro, Dan Kazungu and Christine Zawadi to serve in this government from the Jubilee side was a kind gesture and a pure love for the region.”
She added: “This is because we voted for the opposition but you decided to reward us. You are our only hope for the 2022 presidency.”
Kaloleni MP Paul Katana said despite most of the coast MPs being in the opposition, they would work with the DP following the peace deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga on March 9.
Mr Dori said local leaders will not be intimidated for rallying behind Mr Ruto to be president, adding: “The DP is the only person who has indicated that he will work with us. He is the one we shall support for presidency in 2022” .
“Our problems at the Coast are the direct result of our politics . But when you see us with the Deputy President, be in the know that this is the new route that we are taking for a better future of our children,” Galole MP Said Buya Hiribae said.
Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari called on locals to stop complaining that they were marginalised and instead do something to correct the situation. “This time around, if we get marginalised, then it will be because of our own mistakes,” he said.
Mr Ruto, who was visiting the coast for the ninth time since the handshake deal said he would address the grievances raised by the leaders.
“ All these issues you are telling us to implement are not demands because it is our duty as the government to address them. We appreciate that we can talk with each other as leaders so that we can find to the challenges we face,” he said and told off those criticising his frequent tours across the country.
“Some people say this is my fifth or sixth trip, but I challenge them to continue counting since I am going to tour the region as the Deputy President employed by the people who have a right to my services. God willing I will tour the region more than 1,000 times, let them continue counting,” he said.