Six candidates have been cleared by the electoral agency to vie for the Garissa Township parliamentary by-election slated for January 5.
Mohamed Barrow Dekow (UDA), Nassir Mohamed Dolal alias Jofle (UDM), Ibrahim Malow (Narc Kenya), Muhiadin Abdirashid (DAP-K), Mr Abdifaisal Amin (ODM) and Mr Abdikarim Osman (DP) have got the nod from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to try their luck for the seat that fell vacant when Adan Duale was appointed Defence Cabinet Secretary.
“As we enter the campaign period, I call for peaceful campaigns and elections so that residents of Garissa Township can exercise their democratic right,” Mr Abdi Yunis, IEBC elections manager for Garissa Township said.
He warned candidates against engaging in or funding hooliganism during campaigns.
“The law is clear. The Commission shall not hesitate to deal with anybody who breaks the law during this period,” he said.
Mr Duale was elected on a UDA ticket in August but resigned after clinching a cabinet post.
He has since endorsed Mr Dekow to succeed him.
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.
“This is all about clan elders persuading aspirants to give way for their preferred candidates and this is killing democracy. Everyone willing to contest should be left to get in the ring and let the voters decide,” Mr Adan Yakub, a Garissa resident, said.
Mr Dekkow, who lost the gubernatorial race, admitted that his family had reached out to some aspirants asking them to step down on his behalf.
“I am grateful that our families have agreed to support my candidature…coming together of the families is very important to me,” he said.
Mr Sirat is from the Samawadhal sub-clan of the larger Ogaden clan in Garissa. The Ogaden clan is made up of the Abduwak, Awliyahan and the Samawadhal sub-clans.
“We have agreed as a clan to support Mr Dekow after we vetted all other candidates and concluded that he is best suited to succeed CS Duale,” Mr Ahmed Duale, a clan elder said.
According to Samawadhal clan elders, they will support Mr Dekow. Also supporting his candidature is Mr Abdi Dagane, the Garissa deputy governor.
“As a community we will rally all our members to vote for Mr Dekow,” Mr Dagane said.
After being cleared, Mr Nasir Mohamed Dolal alias Jofle of United Democratic Movement (UDM) accused some unnamed people of attempting to block his clearance.
“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.
Meanwhile, Mr Dolal 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.
He finished second in the August elections with 5,980 votes against Mr Duale’s 9,980.
“I urge the residents of this constituency to look at me with merciful eyes. I have been contesting since 2013. I believe this is my time to serve as the area MP,” he said.
Mr Feisal Amin of ODM pledged to improve living standards for locals.
“We have the Tana River in this town and we need to turn it into a productive venture. If elected, I will ensure every household gets clean water,” he said.
He pledged to deal with pollution in the town and fix the waste management.
“We shall improve the standards of this town so that we can attract investors. We shall have more security installations in the constituency,” he said.
If elected, Mr Amin said he will look at education sector challenges and push for hiring of more qualified teachers in the constituency.
Mr Muhiadin Ahmed, 29, the DAP-K candidate and the youngest, said it was time for the youth to lead Garissa Township.
“I am the youngest and I am in this race because it is a time for youths. I understand the needs of the young people and women. I will be pushing the youth agenda in parliament if elected,” he said.
According to Mr Ahmed, he will start talent centres in Garissa town to support young people in income generation.
“For those interested in continuing with education, I will hunt scholarships for them,” he said.
Others in the race are former Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman (DP) and Ibrahim Malow (Narc-Kenya).
Clan-based politics are expected to play out as the registered 54,000 voters go to the ballot on January 5.
The Samawadhal sub-clan is not supporting any candidate but is keen on a political marriage with the Abduwak and Awliyahan sub-clans.