Mombasa gubernatorial candidates Hassan Joho of ODM and Hassan Omar of Wiper are set to share a NASA platform as the opposition coalition holds a final rally in Mombasa on Wednesday next week.
Joho remains the front-runner candidate with a thin, receding lead. Omar has gained inroads in what was initially an ODM stronghold, now a fiercely contested battleground of the two NASA parties.
Ford Kenya and ANC do not have gubernatorial candidates in Mombasa, with the other two front-runners being former Nyali MP Awiti Bolo and Jubilee candidate Suleiman Shabhal.
The Joho-Omar contest has sharply divided NASA, with the principals skipping Mombasa throughout the campaign trail and will only hold one rally before official campaigns end.
Joho is running on the platform of delivered pledges, seeking to convince voters to re-elect him for his good record, as well as being the only one capable of fighting for the rights of coastal people against entrenched discriminatory practices of the national government.
Omar, on the other hand, is running on the platform of bringing change to Mombasa, accusing Joho of focusing on endless wars with the national government with little to show for the residents of Mombasa, and entrenching corruption, cronyism and petty politics in the management of Mombasa.
The Joho regime has been accused of failing to offer basic services for residents of Mombasa while spending more time in building personal political power. Joho has in the past said he has presidential ambitions.
Loved and loathed on the national platform in equal measure, Joho remains a steady politician in many parts of Mombasa. But he is not sleeping easy.
His team accuse Omar of being a ‘spoiler’, stating his no chance of winning the seat is giving Jubilee candidate a leeway.
Omar team on the other hand accuse the Joho team of having “entitlement mentality”, where they believe Joho should not be challenged, which makes a mockery of everything Kenya stands for as a democratic society with anyone free to challenge anyone for a political seat.
Less controversial but equally maverick, Omar has put brakes on Joho momentum that for long was fueled by the perception of arbitrary and illegal harassment by the national government.
Local sentiments are divided over the duo’s duel, as both Omar and Joho evoke very strong passions. Just last week, supporters of the two clashed in Mombasa over a road incident where a Joho truck had blocked the way of a campaign caravan of Omar. A violent fight erupted with two people sustaining body injuries.
Police is investigating the matter.
NASA leader Raila Odinga is said to have called both Omar and Joho for them to rein in their supporters ahead of the rally, saying any incident during the rally would give Jubilee fodder to malign the presidential campaign at a critical time such distractions will only serve to derail the campaign.