Deputy President William Ruto has appointed Tourism Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala as the new Jubilee Party operations co-coordinator in Mombasa County and Coast region, replacing Suleiman Shahbal who until Friday, September 15 was the ruling coalition’s point man in the Coastal city.
The Deputy President made that change after Jubilee Party members, who unsuccessfully ran for elective seats in Mombasa County in the August 8 General Election, booed Mr Shahbal during a meeting that was presided over by DP Ruto at Wild Waters in Mombasa on Friday, September 15.
The aggrieved Jubilee Party members accused Mr Shahbal of sidelining them in the run-up to the August 8 poll.
They further accused Mr Shahbal of focusing his attention on winning approval from party officials at the Jubilee Party Headquarters in Nairobi instead of looking into their welfare and drumming up support for their candidature.
They also accused Mr Shahbal of failing to deliver the Coastal vote to President Uhuru Kenyatta, claiming he did not deserve to lead the team.
Shahbal, who had taken to the stage to address the gathering on Friday, was booed off stage by angry party members, who wanted him to pass on the microphone to Mr Balala.
“We must address the flaws that were witnessed before and during the August 8 poll. The picking of Party agents will, henceforth, not be supervised at the Party Headquarters in Nairobi. Party agents for the October 17 presidential election will be picked by officials at the grassroots level,” said DP Ruto.
“The picking of agents should begin by Monday, September 18 in every constituency, in every ward. Najib Balala will, henceforth, be the coordinator of Jubilee Party operations in the Coast region,” added the DP.
Former Taita Taveta Woman Rep and ex-Likoni MP, Masoud Mwahima, who unsuccessfully ran for the respective seats on Jubilee Party ticket, blamed, what they termed a ‘Shahbal sabotage’ for their losses in the August 8 poll.
“When choosing agents, we should know who they are; where they come from; who their parents are, where they sleep. We must protect our votes by all means,” said Ms Lay.
Prior to the change in responsibilities called for by DP Ruto, Mr Shahbal had dismissed that there was a rift between Jubilee Party members supporting him and those who threw their support behind Mr Balala.
“We are all fighting for the same cause. There is no confrontation,” he said.
Suleiman Shahbal ran for Mombasa Governor on a Jubilee Party ticket in the August 8 poll, but lost out to ODM’s Ali Hassan Joho after garnering 69, 429 votes against Joho’s 221, 363.
(Additional reporting by George Aoko)