By: Abdikadir Ukash
GARISSA—In late October last year, then Garissa Township Member of Parliament (MP)Aden Duale resigned as a member of the National Assembly following the approval of his nomination as the Defence Cabinet Secretary.
A week later, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has announced the official dates of by-elections to fill parliamentary seats in Kandara and Garissa Township constituencies and a senatorial position in Elgeyo Marakwet county. Kandara MP, Alice Wahome was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Water and Irrigation while Elgeyo Marakwet senator was appointed as Transport CS.
This follows resignations from members who were serving in the aforesaid seats who were appointed to President William Ruto’s cabinet.
Mr Duale was elected on a UDA ticket in August but resigned after clinching a cabinet post. He was serving his fourth time at the time of his exit having been elected on four different political parties. In the 2022 elections, he defied the widely used Negotiated Democracy and won against the Awthaq clan elder’s favourite candidate, Abdullahi Gabane.
1-Major Dekow Barrow
Last month, Duale secured the UDA ticket and subsequently endorsed Mr Dekow Barrow, retired Major in the Kenyan army, to succeed him. Dekow was the UDA gubernatorial candidate, opposing the former Governor, Ali Korane who lost to the current county chief, Nadhif Jama’a. It’s widely believed that Duale and Dekow indirectly delivered Nadhif’s victory by dividing Korane’s support base.
In the same event, two other aspirants, Mr Abdullahi Gabane and Mr Abdirizack Sirat of Wiper Party, had dropped their bid for the seat in favour of Mr Dekow. The moves were as a result of negotiated democracy that has taken root in Northern Kenya politics.
According to Samawadhal clan elders, they will support Mr Dekow to “reciprocate for August last year’s hand of favour.”
Also supporting Dekow’s candidature is Mr Abdi Dagane, the Garissa deputy governor.
2- Abdinasir Dolal Jofle
Abdinasir Dolal alias Jofle will be making his fourth attempt to capture the Garissa Township seat in the by-elections.
He has been contesting for the seat since 2013 on an ODM ticket. He recently ditched ODM and joined Mandera Senator Ali Roba’s UDM party.
“I have come a long way to be cleared after some dark forces tried to stop my candidature for this seat. We shall win with a huge margin,” he said. Last last month, unknown people attacked his car, spraying bullets from all sides. No one was injured in the attack which he claimed was an assassination attempt.
He finished second in the August elections with 5,980 votes against Mr Duale’s 9,980.
3-Abdikarim Osman “Raati”
Abdikarim Osman is the immediate former MP for Fafi. He joined the Garissa Township by-election “to fight the political capture and dynasty,” referring to the Rer-Yahye’s claim on leadership for more than four decades. During the debate held at the Garissa University by Kulan Post in conjunction with Delta TV, Abdikarim alias Raati reiterated that his candidature “was to make Township an open ground for all to play.” He’s vying on KANU party ticket.
Ibrahim Malow is the Nark-Kenya candidate. An accountant by profession, Malow served as the Chief Officer for Finance and Economic Planning in the Korane administration. Like Abdikarim, Malow said he would end “dynasty in the Garissa Township politics.”
The fifth candidate is Feisal Amin (ODM) wanted to vie for governor but stepped down for Nadhif in the initial stages of the 2022 elections. He has severally suffered propaganda aimed at his campaign claiming that he stepped down “in favour of Jofle.”
Major Dekow Barrow, Ibrahim Malow and Abdikarim Raati are from Awthaq clan while Feisal and Jofle are from the Awlihan clan—two factions that have been fighting for political supremacy since the independence.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?
Unlike any other elections since independence, Garissa Township candidates are basing their campaigns on two main issues: fight against “dynasty” and finding lasting solution to the water problem in the town.
The call to end political dynasty was the rallying call of President Ruto on the campaign trail. He labelled Raila Odinga and his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta “sons of dynasty.” In Garissa, two of the candidates—Malow and Abdikarim—claim only one sub-clan has been dominating the Awthaq politics, and Garissa at large. In reference, they stated that from 1982 after the botched coup against the former President Daniel Moi and the appointment of Mohamud Barrow as the Chief of Staff— the highest rank in the army—to the multiple election of Hussein Maalim alias Maendeleo in the 80′ and 90’s to Duale’s nearly two decade presence in politics, only the Rer Yahye subsection has come out advantageous. They add that passing the mantle on to Dekow will “maintain the status quo.”
Despite the longest river in Kenya passing through the town, the locals have been yearning for provision of clean, pipped water. The lack of solution to the menace has costed the current governor (2013-2017) and later Ali Korane. Although water is a devlolved function, all candidates have proposed an array of solutions to the water issues. Other matters on the voter’s wishlist include issuance of Identity Cards, squable over land ownership and jobs for the youths.
WHAT ARE THE STAKES?
Duale, being the President’s pointman in the region and one of the leading figures pushing for his agendas during the pre-election campaigns, losing the seat to a non-UDA candidate will be a blow to his political image. The other issue at stake is the supremacy battle between Duale and Ali Roba, the senator for Mandera.
Their rift stems from top government appointments and UDM’s entrance into the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. It’s reported that after the Roba led party signed pact with the ruling alliance, UDM, with It’s tens of elected leaders, started jostling for Cabinet Secretary slot, saying it contributes more than Duale. The President turned down their request and as they say, the rest is history.