Mike Sonko entry into Mombasa politics rattles local contestants

Mike Sonko

Former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko (left) and  Mr  Ali Mbogo.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The entry of former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko into Mombasa politics has caused jitters among politicians in the county, especially those seeking the governor’s seat.

Mr Sonko is seeking the seat under Wiper after his name was submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) alongside that of Ali Mbogo as contenders for the party’s ticket.

Wiper’s decision on Mr Sonko surprised many people who did not expect him to shift his political base to Mombasa.

Mr Mbogo was thought to be the only contender for the seat under Wiper, until last week.

In a TV interview, Wiper’s National Elections Board chairperson Agatha Solitei said the party had submitted Mr Sonko’s name to the IEBC as one of its aspirants for the governor’s seat.

“We are in talks (with) them (Mr Mbogo and Mr Sonko) trying to reach a consensus. If they do not do that (agree) they will have to go for a contest (nomination),” said Ms Solitei.

No competitor

Political analysts say that in allowing Mr Sonko to vie for the party’s ticket, Wiper has shown that it does not have faith in Mr Mbogo, who has been a member for many years and was campaigning under the impression that he had no competitor.

But one analyst believes Mr Sonko’s entry into Mombasa politics is likely to alter the country’s political direction.

Prof Halimu Shauri, a sociology lecturer at Pwani University, Kilifi argues that the entry of

Mr Sonko’s move not only shocked Mr Mbogo but also other contenders for the position of governor, said Prof Halimu Shauri, a sociology lecturer at Pwani University in Kilifi.

“Mr Sonko has dealt with Nairobi’s complex politics and this makes Mombasa easy for him,” he said.

He added that Mr Sonko is a recognisable brand compared with other contenders for the Mombasa governor’s seat.

Though Mr Mbogo has been a Wiper member for a long time, he said, every party has its own interests, which is why they allowed Mr Sonko to contest the party’s ticket.

Political marketing consultant Bozo Jenje says Mr Sonko’s move has caused jitters in the county. If he vies for the seat, Mr Njeje predicted, he is likely to take many votes from other political parties.

Solid relations

He added that this will also complicate matters for Mr Mbogo, as he could lose voters to the popular former Nairobi governor.

“Both aspirants have solid relationships with Kisauni constituents. For Mr Mbogo, it is an acid test on his political career and for Mr Sonko, it is testing the waters whether he is sellable in cosmopolitan towns,” Mr Jenje said.

For his part, Prof Hassan Mwakimako said Wiper was ill-advised to allow Mr Sonko to contest the party’s ticket.

Allowing Mr Sonko to contest the party’s ticket, he said, was akin to telling Mr Mbogo that the party has no faith in him or his ambitions for the governor.

“This shows that they are not interested in him (Mr Mbogo) because they have looked for an opponent for him,” Prof Mwakimako said.

Mr Mwakera Mndwamrombo, another political analyst, said the entry of Mr Sonko is bound to disrupt the vote calculations of other competitors in the race for the seat.

“The impact of Mr Sonko, if he secures the (Wiper) party ticket, will be felt by the frontrunners for the governor’s seat in Mombasa. His populist politics and campaign style are likely to send jitters and ruffle the feathers of all candidates vying for the gubernatorial seat,” he said.

Mr Sonko was impeached as Nairobi governor in 2020 but has maintained that his removal from office, which was affirmed by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, was illegal and that the Supreme Court would vindicate him.