Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 12:39 EATdmutua@kenyafreepress.com
Deputy President William Ruto’s announcement of Jubilee Party’s line-up for the Mombasa gubernatorial race has ruffled feathers of Jubilee-allied politicians from the region. At his meeting with about 350 Jubilee aspirants from the Coast yesterday, Mr Ruto announced that former ODM politician Suileiman Shahbal would carry the party’s flag, with former Kisauni MP Ananiah Mwaboza as his deputy.
Some analysts have expressed surprise as to why Mr Ruto made what seemed to be a hasty decision just weeks after Mombasa deputy governor Hazel Katana defected to Jubilee Party from ODM, hoping to get a free ticket for the governorship contest for the August 8 general elections. We can authoritatively report that the announcement fitted well in the DP's plans to gain a foothold in areas he considers key to his own presidential bid in 2022.
According to the plan, the DP aims to secure crucial voter baskets in the Coast, Rift Valley and Meru region, in case Central Kenya revolts against his candidature as some of his supporters expect to happen. Mombasa County is reputed as an opposition stronghold, and CORD currently holds the governorship, senate seat, women representative position and all county assembly seats. Governor Hassan Joho and women representative Mishi Mboko are seen as key allies of CORD leader Raila Odinga.
However, Jubilee Party has showed interest for the Mombasa gubernatorial seat, with Mr Shahbal, who received 94,918 votes against Joho's 132,583 in the 2013 election, emerging as Jubilee's hope to capture the seat. Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti are also running, but Mr Joho has dismissed all the rivals as “non-starters”, claiming their only interest is to distract him from fulfilling his mandate for the people of Mombasa.
DP Ruto is putting a fight of his life to ensure Mr Joho loses the election, according to reliable sources in the DP's office who intimidated to this website that the governor and three of his colleagues have been marked as inimical to Mr Ruto's presidential campaign in 2022. The other two are Meru's Peter Munya and Kajiado's Dr David Nkedianye. The DP believes these leaders would not support his 2022 bid in areas that should be Jubilee strongholds.
In addition to being extremely popular with the coastal communities, Mr Joho has the solid backing of the Luo community, who constitute the largest bloc of non-indeginous voters. From the votes that were cast in 2013, the Luo community gave Mr Joho over 50,000 votes in the last elections.
In propping Mr Sahbal, the DP hopes to consolidate the Jubilee tribes' votes while Senator Omar and Hon. Awiti split the opposition's in order to give the Jubilee Party a chance. "This is why he persuaded Mr Mwaboza to join the Jubilee ticket. If the plot works out, the Jubilee Party would have a big catch of the Mijikenda vote that, together with the minority Kikuyu votes, would propel the party to victory in a four-way race," said a Jubilee Party activist from Mombasa familiar with the DP's plans.
In Meru, Mr Ruto, who sees Governor Munya's declared intention to run for president in 2022 as a threat to his own candidature, is believed to have persuaded former assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria to defect the Chap Chap party, so that Governor Munya, whose stronghold is Tigania, would face a candidate from his own backyard, hence give the governor's main challenger a through pass.
Another opponent of the DP's is Dr Nkedianye, the sole ODM governor in Maasailand. In the thinking of Mr Ruto's supporters, Maasailand should be cleaned of opposition support. The DP is implementing a strategy in which the Jubilee Party and its allies would run both Taraiya ole Kores and former cabinet secretary Joseph ole Lenku, splitting the votes from Dr Nkedianye's backyard and rendering non-Maasai voters more lethal.