The former prime minister added that though the constitution allowed political parties formation, it would be imprudent to have regional parties that threatened the unity and cohesion of Kenya as a unitary state.
Raila was speaking at Voi town Tuesday during a tour to the region to popularize Building Bridges Initiatives (BBI).
Raila, who is on a 5-day tour in the Coast region, reiterated that political parties should have a national outlook.
“Regional parties are a threat to the unity of a country. Parties should have a national outlook so that they continue to foster cohesion and unity amongst all Kenyans,” he stated.
Raila was accompanied by Governor Granton Samboja, MPs Junet Mohammed for Suna East, Andrew Mwadime for Mwatate, Johnes Mlolwa for Voi and Zarika Hassan, Kwale Women Representative.
Other leaders present include former Taita Taveta Women Rep Joyce Lay, former Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu and Deputy Governor Majala Mlaghui.
Raila’s comments come in the wake of mounting calls by Coast governors for the region to form a Coast-based party that will address unique challenges faced by the residents in the six counties.
Already, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi have declared their intention to vie for presidency in 2022. Observers claim that formation of a Coast party is a strategy to consolidate the over 1.1 million votes in the region to give the candidates the momentum they need to take a stab at the presidency.
Last month, at his home in Wundanyi, Governor Granton Samboja hosted three other Coast governors including Joho (Mombasa), Kingi (Kilifi) and Dhadho Godhana (Tana River).
The governors declared that the Coast region will demand support from leaders in other regions who have enjoyed support and back-up from the local residents.
“It’s our turn to get support from other regions. We will no longer be pushed aside when decisions are being made,” said Samboja after the talks.
Politically, such plans do not bode well for the former premier who has enjoyed fanatical support from the Coast region for years. Raila disclosed that he would reach out to the leaders and dissuade them from taking such a direction.
He further noted that regional parties had a negative colonial perspective as they used to exist in the pre-colonial era because the colonial government had outlawed national parties.
“Colonial masters did not want Kenyans united and made it illegal to have a national party. This saw the rise of regional parties like Mombasa African Democratic Union, Kikuyu Central Association, Young Kavirondo Association and Ukambani Members Association amongst many others,” he explained.
He noted that formation of regional parties was taking the country back to the colonial era and should be discouraged.
He however stated that everyone had a right to vie for political post in any party so long as the party would have a national outlook to avoid regional stereotyping that would come with the baggage of tribal undertones.
“We are Kenyans and that should ring true even in our parties,” said the former premier.
Raila, who had flown into the county, on Monday evening, was also taken for a tour in Mwatate to inspect the progress of the 160-bed capacity Covid-19 Isolation center and Mwatate market which are under construction. He also officially opened Mwakinyungu Primary School in Msau.
On BBI, Raila dismissed those opposed to constitutional change alleging they were terrified of more money flowing to the counties. He claimed that the 35 per cent proposed increase in county allocation would significantly reduce the money left with the national treasury and therefore reduce the risk of misappropriation by corrupt government officials.
“There will be nothing to loot so they are opposing BBI because they want all money left in Nairobi,” he said.
Samboja said leaders in the region had vowed to popularize the BBI because it would save the four constituencies from being merged into two.
He added that failure to pass BBI would see Voi and Wundanyi constituency merged while Mwatate would be merged with Taveta. “We don’t want to lose a single constituency and that will only be done if BBI is passed,” he said.
The four are part of the 27 protected constituencies in the constitution that were given a 10-year grace period to meet the population threshold of 166,000 persons per constituency by 2020 or face a merger. Currently, none of the four constituencies had hit the required threshold.
There are also fears that constituency mergers will see the county lose Sh200 million annually that is the allocation for National Government Constituency Development Fund.
by Wagema Mwangi