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Rival Azimio candidates turn North Kenya into battleground

By Edwin Nyarangi - Jun 28th 2022
Azimio la Umoja Coalition Flag Bearer Raila Odinga in Masalani Garissa County. June 27, 2022. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

The rivalry between candidates under Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya in Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa and Isiolo has brought to the fore a fierce contest for elective seats.

Supporters of Garissa Governor Ali Korane and former Governor Nathif Jamaa yesterday clashed during an Azimio rally, forcing the meeting attended by coalition presidential hopeful Raila Odinga to end prematurely.

Mr Korane is defending the seat on a Jubilee ticket while Mr Jamaa is seeking to unseat him on an ODM ticket.

Trouble started when Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka invited the governor to address the rally but Mr Jamaa’s supporters disrupted his speech. The chaos also marred Mr Odinga’s meetings in Marsabit and Mandera.

Clashing supporters

In Marsabit, supporters of National Treasury CS Ukur Yattani and Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali clashed last week in the presence of the Azimio presidential candidate, exposing the high stakes in local politics.

Mr Yattani served as the first Marsabit governor after he was elected on an ODM ticket. He lost the seat in the 2017 polls to Mr Ali who was the former Moyale MP.

The CS had warmed up to the idea of reclaiming the governorship but decided not to contest.

“Following wide consultation, I have decided not to contest for the Marsabit governorship and instead serve my country in the crucial Finance ministry,” he said early this year.

The political rivalry between the two leaders played out during the Azimio rallies in Marsabit and Moyale towns where the CS and Mr Ali were heckled.

A similar scenario played out during the Azimio rally in Mandera over the weekend where supporters of former Education CAS Hassan Noor and former Mandera County Assembly Speaker Adan Khalif clashed.

Tight contest

Mr Mohammed is seeking the Mandera governorship on the UDM ticket while Mr Hassan is vying on an ODM ticket, pointing to a tight contest between the Azimio-allied parties where residents mostly vote according to their clans’ preferences.

A political analyst from the region, Ali Adam, told The Standard there are high stakes in regional politics with the clan factor playing a major role in determining who wins.

Late last year during an Azimio rally, Isiolo Governor Mohammed Kuti was shouted down while welcoming Mr Odinga to address residents while his predecessor Godana Doyo who is seeking to reclaim the seat as an independent candidate was cheered.

Mr Kuti said he will not defend the seat on medical grounds and endorsed Nairobi County Assembly Majority Leader Abdi Guyo to succeed him on a Jubilee ticket.

Mr Guyo will battle it out with former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Halakhe Waqo who is contesting for the seat on an ODM ticket.

“In Northern Kenya, the clan factor is key in deciding our leaders. Those elected are those who manage to galvanise their respective clans to their side and also convince members of other clans to support their bids,” Mr Adam said.  

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