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Joho returns from the US to rapturous welcome

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho returned to Mombasa on Sunday after two weeks absence.

The governor’s supporters jammed Moi International Airport to give him a warm welcome.

Clad in ODM t-shirts, hundreds of supporters also lined up on the road leading to the airport.

Joho returned at a time when politics in the county is taking a new dimension with defection of some leaders from ODM to Wiper Party.

Mr Joho, whose sojourn in the United States left a lull in the Coast politics, is expected to re-energise debate in a region that has become a battleground for two top coalitions ahead of the August 8 polls.

NASA STRONGHOLD

The National Super Alliance (Nasa), which sees the region as its stronghold as ODM won most of the seats in 2013 is facing a stiff challenge from Jubilee Party which wants to eat into its support.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have recently made frequent visits to the region to turn the tides against the opposition.

Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties have a total of more than 1.2 million registered voters.

The visits by President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to market Jubilee Party and to dish various goodies have left tongues wagging.

On Friday, Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa said President Kenyatta is expected in Mombasa “soon” to launch a drug rehabilitation centre.

JUBILEE CRITIC

Mr Joho, who has been a major critic of the Jubilee administration and at times exchanged bitter words with its leaders, is seen as a key Nasa point man at the Coast and a political kingpin.

His return comes at a time when Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi is in Mombasa for a two-day tour to market the outfit.

“Governor 001” return comes at a time when his bitter rivals under Nasa, Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti have intensified campaigns to dislodge him in the August polls.

Mr Omar has ruled out joint Nasa nominations in Mombasa. The Wiper Secretary-General has to however first square it out with Mr Awiti for the party ticket.

Jubilee has already named businessman Suleiman Shahbal as its candidate for the gubernatorial seat with former MP Anania Mwaboza as his running mate.