Mombasa County gubernatorial aspirant on a Wiper Party ticket Hassan Omar Sarai (left) with Pastor Abraham Kahindi (right) of the Marimani PEFA Church when he arrived at the church in a meet the people tour at Mwakirunge village in Kisauni constituency, June 12, 2017. Omar who is also the Mombasa County Senator said once elected as the governor will make sure all the roads in Mwakirunge are tarmacked to make the area accessable. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].
The ongoing political campaigns are stoking religious tension in the Coast region, leaders have warned.
In a statement signed by clerics under the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics Trust (CICC), the leaders said tension was building in some parts of the region as some politicians sought to divide the locals along religious and tribal lines.
They warned politicians against stoking religious emotions during the campaigns, saying this would create further divisions among residents who were still healing from tensions brought about by terror attacks.
“Our message to our people in the Coast and Kenya at large is not to allow yourselves to be divided along religious and ethnic lines,” they said in a statement.
The statement was signed by CICC General Secretary Bishop Amos Lewa, Supkem Deputy Secretary Hassan Ole Nando and Narottam Khatan of the Hindu Council of Kenya.
Political heat in the county is rapidly increasing, with two top contestants in the August 8 polls launching door-to-door campaigns in a bid to oust Governor Hassan Joho.
Jubilee Party’s Suleiman Shahbal accused the National Super Alliance (NASA) leadership of stoking religious tension in Mombasa when its key leaders, including presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, attended an iftar event in Mombasa.
Mr Shahbal said Mr Joho stoked religious tensions during the occasion by claiming that the Jubilee government treated Muslims and ethnic Somalis like second-class citizens.
Citing extra-judicial killings of local youths and Muslim leaders in the region, Joho said Muslims were justified in opposing oppression.
“It is during Uhuru’s reign that Muslims were incarcerated at Kasarani. Many Muslims youths and sheikhs have disappeared or been killed under his rule,” said Joho.
Shahbal claimed that by uttering these statements, Joho was inciting religious passions in Mombasa.
“It is cheap politics for him (Joho) to start whipping up religious emotions and diverting campaigns from issues-based politics,” said Shahbal.
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He defended Jubilee against claims that it had sidelined the Muslim community.
Shahbal and his running mate, lawyer Ananiah Mwaboza, pledged to tackle land problems affecting Mombasa residents once they took over office.
“The Jubilee government under President Uhuru Kenyatta has all the answers to the perennial land issues. You all saw what Uhuru did with the Waitiki land issue. We shall set out to end this land problem here once and for all,” Shahbal told residents of Vikwatani in Kisauni.
Jubilee activist Nyonga wa Makemba accused Joho of failing to bring to an end the squatter problem.
“The Opposition is to blame for this mess we are in today. They sat pretty on the land problem and have never been useful in offering alternatives to end it,” said Mr Makemba.
Wiper party candidate Senator Hassan Omar has been criss-crossing the county since Saturday, rallying his supporters to vote for him.
Mr Omar said under Joho’s watch, some parts of the county had lagged behind in development and lacked basic essentials like water, road networks, healthcare and education services.
“If elected, I shall, as matter of priority, ensure that infrastructure upgrades of close to Sh50 billion are done to modernise areas that have been completely forgotten,” he said.
The senator continued his onslaught against Joho’s administration at the Maremani Pentecostal Africa Evangelist Church during a meet-the-people-tour in Kisauni, where he campaigned alongside Wiper party leaders and candidates in the region.
“It is clear that both the county and national governments lack a physical plan for the county. We have absolutely no reason why areas like Nguu Tatu should not have decent roads and better facilities,” he said.
Woman representative candidate Zamzam Mohamed urged the electorate to vote for Wiper aspirants.