NAIROBI—As Aden Duale, the former Majority Leader of the National Assembly exits the stage as the most conspicuous political figure from the Somali community, debate is raging on whether a politician from the Northeastern region can put on his shoe.
It was the first time a Northerner took hold of such a powerful political position, a post that put him at close proximity to the Head of State.
Duale, the Garissa Township legislator was last week dropped by the Jubilee party as part of purge to oust William Ruto’s allies from parliamentary leadership. He was replaced by Kipipiri MP and the suspected chief architect of Laico Regency scandal of 2018.
Duale took the ouster gracefully, according to political observers, although his exit was unstoppable.
“Today marks the end of my seven years of service to the great people of Kenya as the Leader of Majority of the National Assembly. I was the first occupant of the seat under article 108 of the constitution,” the former Majority Leader said in statement seen by Kulan Post shortly after he accepted his fate.
The Jubilee purge started last month with ouster of leaders at the Senate who are allied to the Deputy President, William Ruto. Observers say the President is making way for “friendly” Parliament as bid to pass the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)proposals.
As the reality of Duale’s exit sinks in, locals in Northern Kenya are wondering if a replacement is indeed available. The name that usually comes up in most of the conversations is the Eldas MP Adan Keynan, who was elected the new Jubilee Parliamentary Group secretary, a post widely seen as collateral for the loss of ML post.
“(Aden) Keynan is a senior politician and is known to many Kenyans. He championed a lot of votes for the President during the 2017 elections,” Farhan Mohamed, a political observer from Garissa told Kulan Post.
“But he (Keynan) lacks the charisma, the popularity and influence commanded by Duale who had the ability to sway public opinion using local examples to pass on powerful political message and narratives,”he added.
Keynan was first elected as MP for Wajir West in 1997 on a Safina party ticket. He lost the seat during the 2002 polls and was re-elected in the 2017 General Elections.
Keynan is the second longest serving legislator after Vihiga senator. He also set a record by sitting in the Parliamentary Service Commission PSC for three parliamentary terms besides winning a parliamentary seat for 15 consecutive years.
“But besides such a feat, his influence could not go past Wajir County politics unlike Duale who made his way into the national stage,” Warsame Mohamed, a political commentator observed.
“We are proud of you as Pastoralist,” said David Ole Sankok, a Jubilee nominated MP on his Facebook page.
Nurdin Abdi, political commentator in Wajir stated that unlike Duale, Keynan “is not trustworthy.”
“Leave alone representing North Eastern, Keynan cannot be trusted to represent the interest of Wajir County. After All, his new post is inconsequential,” he said.
Nurdin added that the ousted ML “was a symbol of unity for Northerners and pastoralists at large while Keynan is believed to be a divisive figure even in his own home county and constituency.”
During his maiden visit to Wajir on April 2016, President Uhuru accused the Eldas MP of being “cunning.”
“In 2013, Keynan led a group of MPs and told me that they will support me. When I gave them the campaign cash, they joined the Opposition (ODM),” Uhuru said at Wajir Stadium in the company of Wajir County leaders.
“Duale’s political history is clean and untainted while Keynan’s past is shrouded with mystery, betrayal and lots of other issues,” Nurdin noted.
As Duale finds footing in his new role as a backbencher, it remains to be seen if other senior elected leaders from the region will be able to fill the void.