The 76-year-old said he took a low profile to strategise on his comeback. Wiper Party chairman Chirau Ali Mwakwere is expected to join the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as he attempts to succeed Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya whose final term ends next year.

Mr Mwakwere has held meetings with ODM leader Raila Odinga, the last one at the latter’s Capitol Hill office, Nairobi, on Wednesday.

Sources close to Mr Mwakwere told the Saturday Nation that ODM considers him suitable for the governor seat as the party lays plans to popularise itself in the Coast.

“We are in talks but it is premature to disclose anything now,” a Mr Mwakwere confidant said.

The politician, however, downplayed the defection claims but insisted he would be in the Kwale governor race.

Mr Mwakwere said the meeting with Mr Odinga was among the many that he will hold with other “like-minded” leaders as the country seeks unity through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

“I’m the national chairman of Wiper and we look forward to the BBI referendum which my party supports. We have worked with ODM and the ruling Jubilee Party,” he said.

“Meeting other political leaders does not mean switching parties.”

Mr Mwakwere said he was given a book written by Mr Odinga and that they later took pictures together.

He encouraged political leaders to meet “for the sake of development in Kenya”.

“Mr Odinga is my friend. We discuss matters of national interest our agenda is development,” he said.

It would be the second time Mr Mwakwere is contesting the governor seat.

“I announced it on the day others were being declared winners. My position has not changed,” he said.

In the 2017 election, Mr Mwakwere garnered 29,741 votes against Mr Mvurya’s 119,680.

Mr Issa Chipera of ODM was third with 28,727 votes.

Mr Mwakwere contested the Kwale Senate seat on a United Republican Party ticket in 2013 but lost to Boy Juma Boy of ODM. Mr Mwakwere had 41,753 votes against Boy’s 60,886.

The 76-year-old said he took a low profile to strategise on his comeback.

President Uhuru Kenyatta named Mr Mwakwere Kenya’s ambassador to Tanzania.

He took a low profile and only resurfaced during the Msambweni by-election last year where he led the campaigns for Wiper candidate She Abdulrahman alongside party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

The 76-year-old said he took a low profile to strategise on his comeback.

“I contest political positions for the benefit of Kwale residents and not myself as is the case of many leaders,” Mr Mwakwere told the Saturday Nation.