Ruto starts Coast tour to drum up support ahead of 2022 duel

Thursday, February 4th, 2021 00:00 | By
Deputy President William Ruto addressing Burma Market traders recently. Photo/PD/File

Munira Mandano and Reuben Mwambingu

Deputy President William Ruto is expected to start his three days tour of the Coast today to drum up support for his 2022 presidential bid.

Ruto will kick off his Coast tour at Lunga Lunga constituency in Kwale County where he is expected to open several Constituency Development Funds (CDF) projects.

Speaking during an interview, Lungalunga MP Khatib Mwashetani said the DP will open up a police post at Mwangulu among other facilities that were done by the CDF kitty.

“After the opening of the CDF projects he will hold a rally at Mwangulu market,” he said.

On Friday, the DP will be heading to Watamu in Kilifi county for another rally before he winds up his trip on Saturday in Mombasa county with several other meetings.

Ruto who has been making inroads in the Coast region will be accompanied by a number of MPs, senators and governors allied to him.

Political realignment

The Coast Mps expected to accompany him in the tour  are Feisal Bader (Msambwen), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango), Khatib Mwashetani (Lungalunga), Mohammed Ali (Nyali), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Paul Katana (Kaloleni) among others.

The visit comes a month after his preferred candidate Bader won Msambweni parliamentary seat in a hotly contested by election.

Bader who ran on an independent ticket floored ODM’s Omar Boga who had the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The win has been seen as a political boost to the DP who has been wooing the Coast  region behind his 2022 presidential bid. 

The scramble for the Coastal votes comes at a time when political realignment is gathering momentum in the region, with the region’s political bigwigs formulating strategies to tproduce one presidential candidate for next year’s polls.

Intense lobbying has been ongoing for the past two weeks, with sources hinting at possibility of fronting a single candidate from the three outgoing two-term governors –Hassan Joho of Mombasa, Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Salim Mvurya of Kwale- to go for the top seat.

In an interview on Coast- based radio Msenangu FM- Magarini MP Michael Kingi hinted the idea of backing one formidable candidate from the region. Kingi and Joho are both serving their final terms as governors.

With the now renewed talks for Coast unity, residents can only sit and watch from the political periphery, to see how the whole thing pans out as days, weeks and months fade towards tyhe General Election.

That “Coastal Unity is an idea whose time has come” is not a new phrase in the region. Talks for unity of the Coast have been recurrent towards every electioneering year.

Observers are of the view that the quest for unity by the two leaders is just tactics to remain relevant after next year’s elections.

Referring to Joho’s mission for presidency  on an ODM ticket, Nafula Kisiangani- a political analyst says the move is part of the delay tactics for him to remain in ODM and bargain for a more influential position post 2022.

According to Kisiangani, even though Joho has been so loyal to ODM, the governor understands well that his chances against Odinga in party nominations are slim.

“They are just delay tactics in that party nominations will happen much later towards elections. Then it will be too late to reorganise the ground for say a new party in the event that he fails to clinch the nomination slot. He cannot dictate the nomination process,” explained Kisiangani.

While Coast is perceived as an ODM stronghold, local leaders have clearly demonstrated discomfort of being viewed as a backup plan- but efforts to form independent local parties have failed to take off over the years.

Some of the Coast political parties that have stood up in the past before crumbling include, Mwambao United Front, which also had an agenda of secession, KADU which was founded by Ronald Ngala.

Others are Shirikisho Party of Kenya, recent Kadu Asili, a replica of the original Kadu, Chama Cha Uzalendo and Najib Balala’s Republican Congress, which was later swallowed with the formation of the Jubilee party.

But despite the newfound unity, political pundits at the Coast observe that beside a string of challenges, local politicians are part of the undoing of the idea of formation of a local outfit.

In his considered view, Ayub Mwangi, a Mombasa based communication lecturer and media consultant says Coast parties are generally designed to fail: “ They are usually not meant to last.”

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