April 29th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Uhuru, Raila wage battle in Wajir as president vows to 'wipe' ODM off NEP map

Allies of the president and those of opposition leader Raila Odinga are engaged in a slugfest over the future of Wajir politics, and that a similar effort was underway in Mandera and Garissa, with the president determined to win over all current ODM elected members.

By Phillip MuleeTuesday, 07 Mar 2017 16:49 EAT

Uhuru meeting delegation of leaders from Wajir North led by Hon. Ibrahim Abdi Saney.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared an out war to clear Wajir County of opposition support by winning over ODM politicians to the Jubilee Party ahead of the August 8 general elections. The head of state today met delegation of leaders from Wajir North led by Ibrahim Abdi Saney, less than 24 hours after meeting two ODM members of parliament from the Degodia community also from the county who have officially defected to Jubilee after being hosted at State House Nairobi.

“I welcome the decision by Wajir leaders to work together to promote peace and development. Dialogue and unity among communities are key in accelerating development in Northern Kenya”, President Kenyatta said, affirming the Jubilee government's commitment to working with the people and leaders of Wajir "to fast-track development projects in the county".

Yesterday’s delegation of the Degodia community who were the first to defect to Jubilee were led by Wajir East MP Abbas Mohamed, the only Jubilee elected MP from the county. Others were MPs Adan Keynan Wehliye (Eldas), Mohamed Ibrahim Elmi (Tarbaj) and Nominated Senator Halima Abdille, who told the president they can longer continue being in the opposition.

Barring Abbas, all other MPs from the region, the governor, the women representative, senator and most of the county representatives are in ODM. Mr Keynan, Mr Elmi and Ms Halima have defected to Jubilee. While Mr Elmi is retiring from politics, Ms Halima has declared her interest in the women representative position. The current women representative Fatuma Ibrahim Ali is gunning for the soon-to-vacant Tarbaj parliamentary seat.

Others in the delegation included 15 Wajir MCAs led by their speaker Bishar Omar, who also said their decision to join the Jubilee Party has been informed by the government's "development agenda". "The most important thing in development is unity and stability since where there is no unity and peace, there can be no development. We applaud Wajir County for resolving to join the Jubilee Party which is the winning team. Karibuni Jubilee! Tuko Pamoja!” said President Kenyatta on receiving the first group of Wajir leaders yesterday.

Mr Keynan said: "Your Excellency you know us. We are always clear on our decisions. When we were joining the opposition we declared during the day. This is the same thing we are doing here. What we are doing here is building an inclusive county," Keynan said at State House on Monday.

The head of state said the tarmacking of Modogashe-Samata Road and phase two of Modogashe-Kutulo road will also be factored. "We will ensure Northeastern region is open for business and investments by constructing these roads", adding, "Before we finish our second term, the government will build the Garissa-Mandera to bitumen standards".

Sources familiar with Wajir politics report that allies of the president and those of opposition leader Raila Odinga are engaged in a slugfest over the future of Wajir politics, and that a similar effort was underway in Mandera and Garissa, with the president determined to win over all current ODM elected members.

According to a political operator in Wajir Town who has met allies of the two politicians, where the president can't get ODM elected leaders to defect, he is employing a strategy of winning established leaders, including businessmen and clan elders. Those leaders who had endorsed the ODM tickets are preferred. 

This was the tactic Jubilee employed last month when it galvanised rival elders of the Degodia clan who had endorsed ODM governor Ahmed Abdullahi to endorse the Jubilee candidate. As this website reported after that endorsement, Mr Keynan was instrumental in winning over disgruntled elders to Jubilee, despite being a member of the ODM.

On its part, the opposition is banking on Governor Abdullahi's accomplishments to show what stands in store should Mr Odinga win the presidency. Among the most influential leaders on the opposition side are Mr Abdullahi and women rep Fatuma Ibrahim. Sources say ODM has also identified professionals and community leaders to promote in the upcoming polls, with two leaders having won Mr Odinga's endorsement to run against Mr Keynan.

The opposition is driving a narrative that only Mr Odinga can better promote devolution and effective participation of the Somali community in Kenyan affairs, but Uhuru's supporters counter this by pointing to the senior appointments the president has given the community.

Last week, this website carried an interview with Mr Abbas, in which the Jubilee MP said that he would never defect to ODM as some of his supporters were demanding. Mr Abbas highlighted the appointments as part of the government's efforts to mainstream the Somali community, terming the opposition "confused".

"Jubilee running basically the same script in North Eastern, which is to get opposition leaders to its side," said the politician, who said the only area where the party is expected to face resistance is Mandera, which has been under Jubilee control.

"By any yardstick, Mandera has the worst record in development among the three Somali counties. It will be hard for Jubilee to entice people with development that they have not seen for five years," an analyst told this website, suggesting that Garre elders' insistance that the Mandera governor, senator and other leaders vacate office had Jubilee's blessings.

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