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Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 17:27 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The heckling that marked Eldas MP Adan Keynan’s address during last Saturday’s rally by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Wajir Town has followed the MP during a tour of his constituency, where dozens of people have turned out at various events he convened to express their displeasure with his leadership.
The height of opposition to Mr Keynan was witnessed yesterday at Anole when an elder took the microphone from the area chief who was coordinating the MP's visit and castigated Mr Keynan, who got so incensed by the elder's remarks that he rose and slapped the chief for allowing an 'undeserving elder' to address the gathering.
The elder's message that incensed Mr Keynan, translated from Somali language, went like this. "Mr Keynan, we thank you for the leadership we have had from you for 20 years. You are our esteemed son and even though you were out of power for five years, we count as 20 the number of years you have led our people.
"Having known you well as our son, we are requesting you not to continue campaigning for this seat because you won't get it. And as our son we are asking you to give us your vote for Dr Aralle so that he can lead our people from now onwards."
Dr Ahmed Boray Aralle is Mr Keynan's main opponent for the seat. A member of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) from which Mr Keynan defected recently, Dr Aralle has got an automatic nomination from his party after having been endorsed by elders as the next MP for the area.
Stung by the elder's words, Mr Keynan rose up, held the chief who was acting as the master of ceremonies by the collar of his shirt and hit him, according to eyewitnesses from the event, and the dramatic development threw the meeting into chaos, with heckling and fist fights which forced the police to fire gunshots and arrest some people at the rally.
Among those arrested, who are supporters of Dr Aralle, were Abdifatah Ali Bakal and Ahmed Bankok who spoke to the Kenya Free Press about their ordeal at the hands of police officers. Abdifatah is a journalist who works for the Wajir county government as a press officer while Ahmed is a social media vocalist for the Dr Aralle campaign.
The dramatic incident was the culmination of a week of widespread rejection for Mr Keynan following Saturday's rally where he was prevailed upon to cut short his speech by top Jubilee leaders in order to deescalate heckling at the meeting and let President Kenyatta conduct the rally.
Our efforts to reach Mr Keynan for his version of the events in this article were unsuccessful as his phone was unanswered this afternoon, but the Kenya Free Press corroborated the details herein from multiple sources including provincial administration and police officers at the venues.
Earlier at the El Nur IEBC registration centre where Mr Keynan convened a rally, there was little turnout even after the MP's supporters had sent word that he would visit the area. His convoy conducted a roadshow in the road towards Eldas Town, summoning villagers to the meeting but not many came out and the rally flopped.
From there the MP went to Lakoley, which lies in Eldas but sandwiched between Wajir North and Wajir West clans. The area has witnessed inter-clan clashes recently, prompting the intervention of the national government. When Mr Keynan arrived, the elders said they would not listen to him, accusing him of having taken no interest in the resolution of the clashes in which a number of residents were killed.
At Anole, where he put the better effort to convene the rally, people turned out in large numbers only to express their opposition, resulting in the chaos and arrests. Abdifatah and Ahmed were taken to court and released on a cash bail of Sh20,000 and Sh10,000 respectively after facing charges of causing obstruction during the rally and disrupting the rally.
According to the two, the chief who was slapped by the MP (name withheld) was prevented from recording a statement allegedly because his statement would support the defendants.
Mr Keynan has previously faced accusations of using his position to instigate the arrest of critics. It is widely alleged that he had a hand in the arrest of a critic, Noor Billow, by the anti-terror police. Currently it is being alleged that he has compiled a list of people including social media vocalists for the Aralle campaign whom he wants arrested.
Key supporters and top advisers of Dr Aralle among them Dr Abdi Noor, a former chief officer for health in the Wajir county government currently working for a UN agency, Adan Abdullahi Barrow (a former aspirant for the seat who is popularly known as the Raila of Eldas), economist Abdille Yusuf and sub county administrator Hassan Adow organised the release of Abdifatah and Ahmed.
This same group, who are the leaders of 'Team Change' in Wajir that was instrumental in the vetting that resulted in Dr Aralle's endorsement by the elders, are among the leading critics of Mr Keynan in Eldas. Dr Aralle condemned the arrests and urged Mr Keynan to stop using security services to settle political scores.
The current wave of opposition to Mr Keynan in his backyard builds upon accumalated censure from the locals since last year when, during the coronation of the sultan for Eldas, he tried to force the endorsement of a candidate who, though suitably qualified and well respected, was deemed as his proxy.
At the event, Mr Keynan drew a gun to scare congregants at the meeting, scuttling the coronation. His second attempt to install a sultan was also rejected, and the MP has faced opposition in most of his initiatives since that time.
Since his defection to Jubilee two months ago, Mr Keynan has styled himself as the ruling party's coordinator in Wajir County, leading a delegation of local leaders to State House, Nairobi and also orchestrating the endorsement of Ambassador Mohamed Abdi by Degodia elders as the Jubilee Party's gubernatorial candidate against ODM's incumbent Ahmed Abdullahi.
However, as the opposition to the MP grows, the local and national Jubilee Party leaderships are reported to be considering dropping him from President Kenyatta's campaign efforts. "The president was embarrassed by the near universal heckling directed at the MP which nearly derailed the rally," a Jubilee parliamentary aspirant from the region told this website.
According to the aspirant, it was in part due to the president's first-hand observation of how unpopular Mr Keynan and other ODM defectors were that he acceded to a demand by minority party aspirants that he should never campaign for Jubilee Party aspirants against candidates of other parties supporting his re-election.
"Some of these defectors, including Mr Keynan, negotiated direct Jubilee nominations, and unless the party can get popular candidates running on smaller parties we should as well forget any chances of winning parliamentary seats in their constituencies," said the aspirant, who sought anonymity so as not to be seen discussing colleagues in the media.
Before Mr Keynan announced his defection to the Jubilee Party, this website had reported that he had lost favour with his party leader Raila Odinga, who had endorsed a rival candidate (Dr Aralle) for the Eldas parliamentary seat.
Mohamed Gedi and Muthoni Nyambura contributed reporting for this article from Wajir and Nairobi