Back in 2016, Hassan Noor Hassan was the darling of Mandera elders, who endorsed him over the incumbent Ali Roba for the governor’s seat.
But five years is a long time in Mandera County politics, it seems, and elders this time overlooked Mr Hassan, the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Sports, for assembly Speaker Mohamed Adan Khalif.
The decision has riled Mr Hassan, who has announced he will vie on an Upya Movement ticket.
Mr Hassan, who will make his second attempt to capture the seat, accused elders of short-changing him and imposing his competitor on residents.
“I am a supporter of consensus democracy, where we agree and disagree and bring a better political direction in the county, but the process has been tampered with,” he said.
It was at an Asare sub-clan meeting, where a candidate was to be picked, that Mr Hassan fell out with the elders.
He said the use of delegates to decide the next aspirant from the community was a departure from normal practice.
“Consensus democracy has never been about delegates but about dialogue and persuasion,” he said.
But Mr Khalif said the process that led to his endorsement by elders was transparent.
"We had 391 delegates from all the sub-counties of Mandera County and other parts of the country as the Asare family. The process was above board and seeks to reduce divisive and expensive political competition so that we have one candidate enjoying grassroots backing,” he said.
“We are reaching out to my able competitor, the CAS Hassan Noor, to come back and talk to elders as a family member.”
The retreat where Mr Khalif was endorsed started on Saturday and climaxed with the announcement of the elders’ decision on Monday.
Sensing that his competitor had won over the elders at his expense, Mr Hassan left the venue and organised a parallel media event, where he announced his decision to contest on an Upya ticket.
The retreat followed Governor Roba’s announcing his new party, United Democratic Movement UDM), as one that will protect the interests of pastoralists and offer them a platform for political bargaining in 2022.
UDM is competing with Upya for pastoralists’ support, though the latter’s registration is still interim, which could hinder its efforts to recruit members.
UDM is set to be relaunched in October.
In deciding to run on an Upya ticket, Mr Hassan will be trying to repeat what Governor Roba did when elders declined to endorse him.
Ahead of the 2017 elections, elders had endorsed Mr Hassan but as the incumbent, Mr Roba disregarded their advice and ultimately retained his seat.
Mr Hassan claimed that delegates at the conference were picked by unnamed people who were sympathetic to some of the aspirants. He said his decision to vie on Upya followed wide consultations with his supporters across the county.
“My supporters have asked me to go for the gubernatorial seat on the Upya alliance and that is exactly what I am going to do,” he said.
Mr Khalif will now face another aspirant, from the Furkesha sub-clan, in the final delegates’ conference.
The Furkesha were yet to decide between Mohamud Maalim Mohamed, Mandera Senator Feisal Abdirahman and Yusuf Mohamed Issack, alias Yusuf Rafiki.
The Garre Council of Elders is expected to announce their candidate in November.
Additional reporting by Walter Menya