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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Awiti gubernatorial ambitions shake port city

Political advisers of Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal are worried about the intention of Nyali MP Hezron Awiti to contest for the Mombasa governor seat in 2017.
Impecable sources say it is feared if Awiti who is now the national treasurer of Wiper party contests for the seat, Shahbal will be disadvantaged as majority of upcountry voters who voted for him in the last elections prompting him to garner over 90,000 votes were likely to shift camp.
For instance, it is said the Kambas who overwhelmingly voted for Shahbal as he was a Wiper candidate might go with Awiti, a top party official especially if Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka will be the Cord presidential candidate.
It is against such fears that Shahbal was reportedly floating an idea that he should pick a Kamba to be his running mate. The name of Philip Ndolo who contested for the Changamwe parliamentary seat features prominently. However, some are disagreeing claiming Ndolo may not be an attractive candidate for the Kamba. A Kikuyu businessman also features.
“For sure, we are very worried about the entry of Awiti. His candidature is going to change Mombasa politics in a big way. But chances are that he could give our opponents an advantage. We are praying he changes his mind”, a political adviser of Shahbal said.
But observers say, Shahbal’s move to Jap is a political suicide as Jubilee is still unpopular in the county especially among Muslims and the Mijikenda. It is said the hasty decision would cost him dearly as he will be made to account for the sins of omission and commission of Jubilee.
“During the campaigns, we will demand that Shahbal tells us why the government was harassing the MRC and other Muslims at the Coast in the guise of fighting terrorism. He must be prepared because he is now part of the system and therefore an insider who ought to change things for the betterment of Muslims and Mombasa in general,” said Abdul Hassan from Likoni.
But even as Shahbal supporters mull over Awiti’s candidature, sources close to the Nyali MP say there is no turning back, saying the Mombasa governor seat belongs to voters who must be left to decide.
“Mheshimiwa has made up his mind to contest for governor and no amount of pursuasion from any quarter can make him change his mind. He is very much encouraged by the response so far. Representatives of hawkers, youth, Muslims, Asians, Mijikenda, Swahilis, Kambas and all other tribes in Mombasa have assured him that they will be behind him up to the end so those who are thinking he can pull out of the race are wasting their time,” said Daniel Baya
It also emerged that the Awiti is working out a strategy on how to deal with the Shahbal factor, insisting that defeating Joho is much easier.
Sources also pointed out that Awiti has started assembling a formidable campaign warchest that will shake the port city during campaign period. At the moment, a serious networking to bring together community and opinion leaders is ongoing.
However even as schemes and plotting continues, it is said Governor Ali Joho is keenly monitoring the unfolding events with a regular update from his men whom he has deployed to penetrate his opponent’s political camps. It is said some of Joho’s intelligence gathering machinery are part of his rivals’ campaign strategy teams.