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Okoa Mombasa urge aspirants to prioritise economic rights

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[MUHURI Chairperson Khelef Khalifa. Photo/ Ahmed Omar].

Okoa Mombasa, a Mombasa based economic rights forum has appealed to political aspirants in the county to prioritise the protection of livelihoods and human rights in the Coast region with the launch of its 2022 Elections Demand Pledge on Thursday.

The Pledge emanated from Okoa Mombasa members after a series of in-person consultations between March and June 2022 with communities around Mombasa.

It outlines key human rights issues that residents would like to see in aspirants’ political platforms.

The Pledge is open for aspirants to sign and the coalition will encourage voters to support candidates who sign on and will track aspirants’ continued commitment to the pledge if they are elected.

“At election time, politicians claim that they represent Mombasa’s interests, but once elected, most of them fail to keep their promises,” said Khelef Khalifa, Okoa Mombasa member Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) Chairperson.

He continued, “In 2022 elections we want to change that. We’re offering aspirants a chance to put their commitment down in writing, and voters will see who has signed the pledge.”

Okoa Mombasa’s 2022 Election Demands Pledge asks candidates to pledge to four issues of public participation, inclusivity, build transparency and accountability and protect devolution.

According to Khalifa, The SGR cargo directives, which affected the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in Mombasa, were executed without public participation.

He said the government did not hear from the many families who were gravely affected by those directives adding that candidates who sign the pledge must ensure that Mombasa residents are consulted in a meaningful way about government decisions that have an effect on their livelihoods.

On matters inclusivity, the leaders are urged to work towards the protection and growth of all in society.

However, this was not attained after the government directives that ordered all cargo be transported up-country via the SGR led directly to loss of jobs, closure of businesses, loss of livelihoods and the decline of Mombasa’s economy.

Under this clause the candidates who sign the pledge will promise to fight to rescind the directives and pursue alternative job creation opportunities to cushion those affected by job losses.

On Build transparency and accountability, Khalifa says the conception and construction of the SGR was shrouded in secrecy. The fraudulent procurement process, lack of transparency around the loan and other agreements, lack of public participation during the projects initial phase all point towards grave illegality.

Under this clause the candidates who sign the pledge promise to take all steps within their power to publish the contracts and agreements related to the SGR’s procurement, construction and operation.

On protection of Devolution, Khalifa noted that the Mombasa harbour is a vital economic local resource.

He said the port is meant to uplift the livelihoods of Mombasa residents. Efforts to undermine devolution harm communities’ access to increased economic opportunities adding that candidates who sign the pledge must take concrete steps to ensure that Mombasa County benefits from having the port, just as other counties benefit from their local resources.

“Okoa Mombasa opposes the lack of public participation in important government directives that negatively affected people’s livelihoods in Mombasa, lack of transparency around the SGR conception and construction, and efforts to undermine devolution,” Mr Khalifa disclosed, urging all political aspirants to sign this pledge and center the needs of Mombasa residents.