Efforts to establish a Coast region political outfit ahead of the 2022 elections have received a boost after five parties formed a coalition.
Leaders of the Shirikisho Party of Kenya (SPK), Kadu-Asili, the Republican Congress Party of Kenya and the Umoja Summit Party of Kenya (USPK) have created an alliance with the Communist Party of Kenya.
Speaking in Voi, the officials said they were ready to field a candidate in next year’s General Election and dismissed claims that their parties are tribal cocoons.
The region is an ODM stronghold and has for years supported opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy President William Ruto have been courting the region to get a share of its 1.8 million votes.
Officials of the new coalition said they are working to unite the Coast region and speak with one voice for the benefit of residents.
The parties have launched an initiative called the Coast Integrated Development Initiative (CIDI) that is pushing for a formula to win the support of all Coast communities.
CIDI is a strategic move to block major parties that have dominated the region for decades.
“We want this initiative to be inclusive for all communities living in Coast. All regions are coming together. Why is it that when it is matters of coastal issues they are termed tribal?" said CIDI director Bernard Taura.
He said the outfit will be used to ring-fence the Coast region, which he claimed has been misused by some political leaders to get votes.
The leaders said they have also involved other leaders, including governors, senators, MPs and MCAs, to discuss the unity of the region ahead of the elections.
“We have a vision of forming the government in next year’s election. This coalition will champion the plight of locals of this region. I encourage other parties to come on board,” Mr Taura said.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has been working to form a Coast party and previously held talks with leaders of the region’s parties.
But Mr Odinga has advised him to abandon plans for a regional outfit and instead support ODM, which he said has nationwide appeal.
Speaking in Voi earlier this year, Mr Odinga said regional parties will turn the country into tribal enclaves.
Umoja Summit Party national chairman Matano Chengo said they are working on a fresh political strategy to consolidate support across the region to fight landlessness, unemployment, human-wildlife conflict and underdevelopment.
The party’s secretary-general, Naomi Cidi, said the initiative will ensure that it achieves a political arrangement through which they could ensure they get the support of the region’s residents.
Ms Cidi said only 45 per cent of voters in the region participate in elections.
“We will ensure that civic education forums are conducted to urge our people on the importance of participating in elections. It is true many people don’t take part in elections, which is why we elect the wrong leaders,” she said.
The officials waded into the debate on the Building Bridges Initiative, which has been blocked by a court, saying it is meant to benefit a few individuals.
CPK national vice-chairperson Mbuka Ngesa said the coalition believes the region has not benefited from natural resources in the area.
He cited minerals, Tsavo National Park and the Kenya Ports Authority as some of the resources that do not benefit them.
“The Kwale Base Titanium project and many others are among those that are not benefiting the people. The port is also dying and yet leaders are silent about it,” he said.