Negotiated democracy: Mandera Senator Maalim Mohamud makes another u-turn

From left: Prof Issack Elmi, Mr Yussuf Mohamed Issack alias Yussuf Rafiki alias Abass, Mr Abdullahi Ibrahim, Mr Feisal Abdirahaman and Senator Mohamed Maalim Mohamud on November 26, 2021. The five were seeking clan endorsement to run for Mandera governor’s seat. The Elders picked Mr Abass, a Mombasa businessman. 

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo | Nation Media Group

Mandera Senator Mohamed Maalim Mohamud has fought back a day after clan elders denied him a chance to succeed Governor Ali Roba in the negotiated democracy arrangement.

Mr Mohamud, who spoke to Nation.Africa, said he would meet with some of his supporters to decide on his next political step after Darawa clan elders voted against him.

“A decision has been made against me through voting after negotiations failed to yield fruits and my supporters have asked me to reconsider the outcome,” he said.

On November 25, clan elders drawn from the Darawa sub-clan of the larger Garre clan converged at Takaba town in Mandera West to decide the fate of five gubernatorial aspirants.

The five were Mr Mohamud, Mr Yussuf Mohamed Issack, alias Yussuf Rafiki, Mr Feisal Abdirahaman Abass, Mr Abdullahi Ibrahim and Prof Issack Elmi.

Prof Elmi pulled out under unclear circumstances while it emerged that Mr Ibrahim was forced to step down by his uncle who sits in the council of elders.

During the negotiations, Mr Rafiki was also persuaded to step down leaving the Senator and Mr Abass in the race.

The elders failed to reach an agreement on who between Senator Mohamud and Mr Abass, a Mombasa-based businessman could be endorsed.

“We got into extra time to allow negotiations but we could not agree, forcing us to break the stalemate through a vote,” Mr Mohamed Okash, an elder said.

According to Mr Okash, the elders picked 90 delegates to vote between Senator Mohamud and Mr Abass.

“On Saturday, Mr Abass managed 46 votes against the senator’s 44 and everyone agreed with the results,” Mr Okash said.

Immediately the results were announced, Senator Mohamud took to the podium and conceded a defeat but later denied the same.

“I conceded the defeat but that was me then. My supporters have come to me and asked me to refute the same and I have listened and considered their concerns,” Senator Mohamud said.

The senator said his supporters were the decision-makers and he would always abide by their wishes.

“This is about my supporters and not Governor Roba, I was not a candidate for myself but for many other people who have disagreed with the process,” he said.

But even as the senator maintained that his team had pushed him to change his stand, the elders maintained that it was impossible to erase what had been captured.

“Our community shall go by what the senator first said at the conference and not what is popping up now. We all know he pledged to support the winner and that is what stands,” Mr Okash said.

This is not the first time Senator Mohamud is finding himself in such a situation. In 2017, he agreed with the elders’ decree barring him from seeking re-election but jumped ship and joined Governor Roba’s bandwagon and he won the senatorial seat.

Vast experience

“We are retreating and I will announce my next move after thorough consultations with my supporters,” he said without being specific on when he will make the announcement.

Mr Mohamud, 68, was elected as Mandera Senator in 2017 after serving as Mandera West MP for 10 years.

Between 2008 and 2011, he served as an assistant minister for Energy after serving as a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Roads and Public Works between 2005 and 2007 and the Ministry of Regional Development (2003-2005).

He served as the Kenyan ambassador to Egypt between 1997 and 2003 with credentials to Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Eritrea.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Environment Health Engineering from the University of Nairobi attained between 1978 and 1980.

He has a degree in Civil Engineering from the same university attained between 1975 and 1978.

Senator Mohamud is a member of the Engineers’ Board of Kenya and an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (London).

Mr Feisal Abdirahman Abass, who was endorsed by the clan elders, said his main agenda was uplifting the livelihoods of the residents of Mandera.

He is banking on his wide business network and vast experience in civil service to take Mandera to the next step.

“I have served in government in different capacities including being a director at Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and that means I am capable of taking Mandera to the next level,” he said.

He said both Mandera West and North sub-counties were supplied with power generators when he served as the chairman of the Rural Electrification Authority.

Mr Abass has also worked at Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and Policy Holders Compensation Fund, where he dealt with issues of collapsed insurances in the country.

“I just want to give back to my community what I have achieved after many years in the national government and I want to concentrate on improving the livelihoods of our people,” he said.

Mr Abass has picked the health sector, water supply, agriculture and education as his main areas of concentration if elected governor.

“I want to ensure that we find a way out of the ever-recurring drought in Mandera by investing in the life-changing projects across the county,” he said.

Mr Abass said his main agenda was unifying the residents of Mandera for development purposes.

It remains unclear if the larger Garre clan will come together and agree on one candidate between the two winners of the sub-clan endorsements.

The Asare Sub clan has, for its part, endorsed Mandera Assembly Speaker Mohamed Adan Khalif who is expected to battle out with Mr Abass at the clan level even though Mr Okash was doubtful of the Garre clan agreeing on a candidate.

“We are moving on and the next issue is about a political party and nothing else. We already have a candidate picked through a fair and transparent process,” Mr Okash said.

If what Mr Okash, a clan elder, said is anything to go by then the larger Garre clan will have more than three candidates seeking to succeed Governor Ali Roba.

In the past, the clan through negotiated democracy has always supported a single candidate.

Currently, gubernatorial aspirants include Mr Mohamed Adan Khalif, the county assembly speaker, Mr Feisal Abdirahaman Abass and Mr Hassan Noor Hassan, CAS Education.

Unconfirmed reports have also shown that the East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed is also eyeing the seat.

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