Deputy President William Ruto was yesterday forced to defuse tensions between supporters of Malindian MP Aisha Jumwa and those of Governor Amason Kingi’s Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA).
The DP held an economic forum at Karisa Maitha’s compound in Kilifi and had to implore the accused supporters of the two camps not to clash.
But yesterday’s chaotic scene was not an isolated incident.
For the past four days, the DP has witnessed the rivalry between the two political parties in the Kenya-Kwanza coalition on the coast.
Tensions between the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and the PAA became apparent during the DP’s tour in Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi counties, and he sought to calm supporters in the troubled political marriage.
Yesterday Ruto vowed to come to address the issue, saying his four-day tour is to listen to people’s economic problems and not get involved in politics.
The DP held economic forums in Mombasa and Taita Taveta. On Friday he had to postpone that for Kwale to attend national prayers in Nairobi.
Yesterday the DP said if elected he would revive the collapsed Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Project, which bisects Kilifi and Tana River counties.
He also pledged to revitalize the cashew processing plant and promote coconut farming and the blue economy in the coastal region before flying to Tana River County to conclude his campaign tour.
“Put down the wheelbarrows. This is the time to discuss economic issues of concern to the people of Kilifi County, not a campaign forum. I will come back to do politics,” he said, as UDA supporters attempted to dominate the forum and cheered on Ms Jumwa.
On Wednesday, Jumwa and Kingi supporters clashed at a rally chaired by Ruto at the Msabani compound in Malindi. Before Ruto arrived at the venue accompanied by the PAA party leader and the governor of Kilifi, Ms Jumwa had announced that she had organized the meeting.
In Kwale, Ruto introduced only UDA gubernatorial candidate Fatuma Achani, Anthony Yama (Senate) and Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari, omitting the PAA brigade.
Yesterday Ms Sophie Kombe, candidate for the Kilifi South PAA parliamentary nomination, confirmed that they have had a difficult ‘marriage’ with the UDA since they came to Kenya Kwanza from Azimio La Umoja.
But Ms Kombe said her focus is on voters rather than rival leaders trying to shove her out of the political space.
“I can confirm that there are power struggles, but that is expected. Our focus is the local voter. We’re prepared for the pushing and shoving,” she said.
“Ruto has the right to support whoever he wants. But PAA has its gubernatorial candidate, George Kithi, and we stand firmly behind him as a party.”
Rabai UDA parliamentary candidate Philip Mbaji argued that sibling friction in Kenya Kwanza is healthy as long as it is not about zoning or suffocating specific candidates from either party.
He said that at recent public rallies in Malindi and Mariakani in Kilifi district, it was clear that the UDA was the party to beat in Kilifi and on the coast in general.
“The fact that our counterparts PAA could not crow in their supposed stronghold shows that UDA is on the rise. It is ready to be the party that produces majority seats,” he said.