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Shakul pledges to improve Kenya, Somalia ties if elected in Jubaland polls

Dr Sheik Mohamed Shakul

A day before the election in Jubaland, the country's opposition leader Dr Sheik Mohamed Shakul has pledged to improve ties with Kenya and bolster the fight against Al Shabaab as part of his agenda.

Dr Shakul is among 13 other contestants seeking to end the eight-year reign of President Ahmed Madobe on the August 22 election.

Other contenders includes Abdulkadir Ali Sharray, Salah Ahmed, Adam Afey, Abdi Osman, Abdalla Ibrahim, Abdirahman Jibril, Ahmed Marsheye, Yusuf Duale, Abdinasir Seraar, Abdirashid Hiddig and Sheik Dahir.

Madobe will also face off with Mohamed Abdulle Magan, Mohamed Omar Gedi, Anab Mohamed Dahir, Abdi Hiis Udan, Mohamoud Mohamed Omar, Ahmed Abdi Abdi and Abdirahman Ahmed Rabi. All of them have been critical to Madobe’s administration.

Improve economy

The 53-year-old businessman is also a renowned Islamic scholar, he regularly preaches major Mosques and Islamic centres in Nairobi.

The Isbeddeldoon party leader said improving the economy of the conflict-torn state is top on the cards.

"I pledge to pursue the fight against Alshbaab together with our major partners, and this will take us six months, improve Kenya-Somalia relationship and improve the economy," said Dr Shakul.

Despite the incumbent presidenbeing a close ally of Kenya, Dr Shakul has said idf elected,  he would seek deeper ties with the neighbouring country within six months.

Rizak Hassan, a worshiper at Jamia Mosque of Nairobi expressed his support for Shakul saying he means well for Somalia.

"I like his khutbah, he is very eloquent and touches the point, I hope he wins the," he said.

In a report published by the Kenyan intelligent in 2013, Dr Shakul was among the leaders and businessmen that Al Shabaab intends to assassinate over accusations of assisting the Kenyan Government to fight them.

The opposition leader has however warned the Jubaland Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (JIEBC) against rigging the incumbent.

Already, the Isbeddeldoon party has threatened to boycott the election over the allegation of an unfair process that favours Madobe.

A statement issued by the United Nations special envoy to Somalia Mr James Swan has also indicated that the international community will not accept a rigged election.

The group has put together a parallel election process, a move that's believed to further divide the region.

They have asked the Federal government of Somalia also not to recognise the results declared by JIEBC.

High stakes

The stakes are very high, leading to a recent standoff between KDF and Ethiopian troops on the ground.

"We know some local leaders have been pushing the Kenyan government to support Madobe but we are determined to win," said Dr Shakul.

Jubaland has seen heightened political temperatures with Madobe facing stiff opposition from some former allies.

During the campaign period, the candidates for Jubaland State presidential elections have turned to political sabotage, character assassination, distorting of campaign slogans and negative publicity in attempts to gain a winning edge.

The domestic stakes of the Jubaland election process are high, as clan factions fight over the division of resources.

The political shenanigans include sponsored hateful advertisements and fabrication of campaign materials aimed at portraying rivals adversely before voters.

Madobe’s supporters have accused Mogadishu of sponsoring the violence as part of intimidation following the incumbent’s trend that is now worrying locals.

There have been allegations that Mogadishu is opposed to the re-election of the Jubaland President and could have privately sponsored several candidates from Madobe’s Ogaden clan to contest against him.