Governor Joho facing stiff competition from rivals
Stage is set for a bruising battle for the Mombasa County gubernatorial seat as four leading candidates have been handed direct nominations by their respective parties for the August 8 general elections.
Businessman Suleiman Shahbal (Jubilee), Nyali MP Hezron Awiti (Vibrant Democratic Party) and Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar of Wiper Democratic Movement have no worries of party primaries in their quest to dislodge the incumbent Hassan Joho of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
Shahbal was the first to be handed the Jubilee ticket together with his running mate Anania Mwaboza in what is believed to be a formidable combination.
Their nomination was announced by the Deputy President William Ruto during his recent visit in Mombasa after long deliberations and input from local leaders.
Joho was among ODM aspirants who were recently issued with direct nomination certificates in an event presided by the party leader Raila Odinga. Joho is also ODM deputy party leader.
Omar who is also the Secretary-General of Wiper Democratic Movement secured his nomination after Awiti defected from Wiper and formed his Vibrant Democratic Party (VDP).
Awiti who is the leader of the new party accused Wiper of plans to rig the party primaries in favour of Omar.
Despite mounting spirited campaigns including discrediting Joho over alleged fake academic certificates, the trio has an uphill task ahead as recent surveys found the governor the most preferred candidate.
According to the study conducted in March by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), Joho commands a whopping 68 per cent followed by Shahbal at nine percent. Senator Omar came third with six per cent and Awiti was last with two per cent.
But Shahbal quickly dismissed the poll saying, “it is a fraud and the whole exercise was stage managed by the governor and his staff.”
The Jubilee aspirant who lost to Joho in 2013 elections said the poll results were bogus and questioned the integrity of the little known TIFA.
Though the study put him way ahead of his opponents, Joho’s re-election is not assured considering both Shahbal and Awiti are wealthy businessmen capable of mounting a well coordinated campaign against the governor.
Meanwhile, aspirants seeking nomination for parliamentary, senator, women representative and members of the county assembly will fight it out to secure tickets of their respective parties in the primaries slated for this week.
ODM party has handed direct tickets to its two members of parliament in Mombasa County Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita) and Rashid Bedzimba (Kisauni).
By Mohamed Hassan