North Eastern: New seats offer political
By Abdikadir Sugow
July 31, 2012
Political stakes are high in North Eastern Province, with seven new parliamentary seats setting the stage for realignments.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has gazetted the final list of constituencies and electoral wards to be contested in the upcoming General Election, with the region getting seven more to a total 18 parliamentary seats, up from 11.
Other than 18 constituencies for MPs, there will be three seats each of Senator, Governor, Ward Representatives and Women’s Representatives in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties.
Aspirants including former MPs are laying the groundwork to contest the additional parliamentary seats, Senator and County Assembly slots for the first elections under the new Constitution.
A landmark ruling by a five-judge bench special court appointed by the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on cases filed by those who felt aggrieved or feared they would not be effectively represented in the new units sets the stage for titanic political battles in Kenya’s 290 constituencies and 1,450 county wards. Former and current NEP MPs and new aspirants from the three counties have retreated to their bases in readiness for the political battles.
In Garissa County, the province’s political and economic powerhouse, former MPs Ibrahim Mohamed Salat, Mohamed Muktar Shiddiye, Elias Bare Shill and Mohamed Dahir Weirah are entering the political limelight.
Salat and Shiddiye – a former Deputy Kanu Chief Whip, are widely believed to be gunning as frontrunners for Mbalambala and Dadaab parliamentary seats respectively. The two constituencies were carved from the Dujis and Lagdera boundaries.
Former Fafi MP Shill is making a third attempt in a bid to dislodge the sitting MP, Assistant Minister Aden Sugow – and the two are consolidating their networks on the ground.
Weirah of Ijara constituency will battle it out with Nominated MP Sofia Abdi Noor. Sofia is well known for championing women’s rights. The other aspirants for the seat are Ahmed Ibrahim Abass and Ahmed Duale Ahmed.
The battle for Garissa County Governor will pit new political entrants Mohamed Moulid Shurie, Ali Bunow Korane, Nathif Jama Adam and Harun Yusuf Mohamed. Defence and Acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji will slug it out with Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim for the Senator’s post.
In Mandera County, the dominant Garre clan seems organised to secure most of the political seats, with former prominent MPs Billow Kerrow and Aden Mohamed Noor reportedly stepping aside after accepting ‘blessings’ from the community elders.
The clan’s political elite is working on a formula to capture the coveted seat of Governor for which career pilot, Captain Roba Ali, appears destined. The community also hopes to secure Mandera North hived off from Mandera Central and Banissa which was previously in Mandera West constituency.
In return, the Garre clan elders are considering forfeiting the Senator, Women Representative and Deputy Governor positions for the Murulle and Degodia clans, who also have a stake.
A former Mandera East MP Shaaban Issack of the Murulle clan is focused on a return to politics as he contemplates going for either Senator or MP for the newly created Lafey constituency.
The former Local Government Assistant minister is consulting widely with all the clans for direction. A former electoral commissioner Abdi Mude Ibrahim and the current Mandera East MP Mohamed Hussein Ali alias “Qarass” will come head to head with Issack if he opts for the Lafey parliamentary seat. Outgoing District Water Engineer Mohamed Ali alias “Maqar” is eyeing Mandera East.
In Wajir County, former minister Mohammed Mohamoud Abdi is widely touted to capture the coveted seat of Governor. Abdi who once represented Wajir East constituency, is believed to have immense influence in the county.
While sources indicate there will be sharing of top political seats among the local Degodia, Ogaden and Ajuran clans, the former Regional Development minister together with another candidate Ahmed Abdullahi Mohamad will rely on the majority support of the dominant Degodia clan for governorship.
Former ODM-Kenya and now Wiper Democratic Party Nominated MP Mohamed Abdi Affey is confident of capturing the Senator’s position.
But career teacher Adan Omar Enow might give him a hard time as he was the first candidate to be endorsed for the seat by the Ajuran Council of Elders.
Former Wajir North MP Abdullahi Ali alias “Kabreta” is currently the most formidable challenger to the current MP Mohammed Gabow and a new aspirant Ahmed Maalim Aden.
Ali seems to have done his homework, which could be enough to capture the only parliamentary seat for the Ajuran community. He was first MP to represent the smallest constituency in the province.
The vast Wajir North was hived off the vast Wajir West in 1996 to serve the interests of the Waqle and Walmega sub-clans of the dominant Ajuran community.