Mandera elders 'anoint' county officials

By | Published Sat, February 18th 2012 at 00:00, Updated Sat, February 18th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Boniface Ongeri and Adow Jubat

In a move likely to shake politics in Northern Eastern, Mandera's most populous community has named its nominees for top county positions.

Leaders of the Gurreh community say those who have been ‘anointed’ will not be subjected to any competition in the General Election.

Captain Ali Ibrahim Roba

In a traditional process that took more than two years, the community Council of Elders settled on Ali Ibrahim Roba for governor. In addition, elders say they have also identified nominees to run in three of the six local constituencies dominated by the Gurreh community.

They include Mohamed Maalim Mohamud (Takaba constituency), Mohamed Abdi Haji (Banisa) and Mohamed Adan Huka (Mandera South). Mohamud is currently the MP for Mandera West, which is set to be split. The ‘anointed’ team is now viewed within the county as the elect leaders waiting to take over office.

The elders say the decision was reached after consultations. "The process started more than two years ago and was concluded last December," said Maalim Alinur, the chairman of the 21-member Council of Elders representing the sub-clans of the Gurreh community.

"Potential candidates were asked to apply, they were interviewed and we zeroed in on those we have named," he said.

There were nine aspirants who applied to become governor. They were Abdikadir Adan Chitto, Mohamud Sheikh Adan and Ali.

Chitto is a former clerk to County Council of Mandera. Ali is the Director of Flight Operation for DAC Aviation East Africa Ltd.

The council enjoys support from politicians, professionals, women, youth, religious leaders and the business community. Alinur said the council had opted for someone with no political history.

Abdikadir Adan Chitto

Ali told The Standard on Sunday that he would be consulting widely with the leaders from the other clans.

According to 2009 census results, more than 60 per cent of the population in Mandera is from the Gurreh community while about 40 per cent is shared among Murule, Degodia, Shekali, Shabelle, Warabea, Leisan, Gabawein clans.

While some residents have voiced concerns the move may kill democracy, the council argues that it was necessary to nominate the office holders to avert retrogressive political wars. Suleiman Mahamud Issak, the coordinator of Nomad Life Foundation, said he supports the elders’ action.

"The decision was binding because we realised that instead of wasting energy on campaigns and adding salt to the already volatile Mandera politics, aspirants should be vetted and qualified ones nominated," he said. Mohamud said the decision had been reached but will be amplified late.

"The other clans would be informed of the decision soon," he said. However, a section residents voiced concerns the move to nominate candidates for various elective positions may kill democracy.

Abdirahaman Hajji Ismail, the vice chairman of the County Council of Mandera says whoever is nominated must be acceptable to all. "We haven’t been informed of the decision, meaning it is not binding," he said. Kulow Maalim Hassan, a Kenya Airports Authority director, said he is in the race for the new Banisa constituency seat.

Kulow Maalim Hassan: Photos:STANDARD

"The decision to nominate someone for the seat is not binding. Anybody who thinks they will have a field day should better get prepared. Mandera County is not a monarchy. It is a cosmopolitan county," he said. However, the elders said the community had reached a decision after vetting aspirants.

Chitto, a consultant, said he would contest governor’s seat. "The council’s decision is not binding. I’m in the race," he said.

Prof Issak Elmi, a former lecturer at the University of Nairobi and chief researcher with Nema, said no seat in Mandera would go unchallenged. "The Constitution is supreme and everyone has a right. No group can decide for the masses. Only IEBC can prevent a candidate from running", he said.

Maalim Alinur, the Council of Elders Chairman, said everyone was party to the decision and those who lost in the interviews had signed for whatever outcome.