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Issa Timamy: Isolated governor in a sea of ODM, TNA MCAs

By Patrick Beja | Published Sun, June 29th 2014 at 00:00, Updated June 29th 2014 at 16:39 GMT +3

LAMU COUNTY: Embattled Lamu Governor Issa Timamy has had a turbulent political career since he declared war on people irregularly allocated land in the county that is set to host the Lamu Port.

Mr Timamy, who was on Thursday charged in connection with the recent Mpeketoni violence, won the gubernatorial election against former long-serving Lamu West MP Fahim Twaha of The National Party (TNA), becoming the only governor elected on the United Democratic Forum (UDF) ticket in the country.

Then his political problems began. He was a UDF governor among a sea of TNA and ODM ward representatives. Timamy had promised the electorate that he would fight corruption, especially against land grabbing in the UNESCO World Heritage Lamu Island and mainland, where most people are squatters in thousands of acres of private ranches.

Twaha launched a bristling legal challenge against Timamy’s win. But the Court of Appeal reinstated him on November 21, last year after a bruising six-month battle. Then the MCAS rebelled against him, rejected his first cabinet and attempted to impeach him.

Led by County Assembly Speaker Mohamed Hashim, a former Lamu East MP, the MCAs claimed the appointments were done without consultation and that minority communities were not included. Lamu East MP Sharif Athman Ali and his Lamu West counterpart Julius Ndegwa sided with the MCAs.

Lamu County Commissioner Stephen Ikua has also clashed publicly with Timamy, with the latter claiming the administrator campaigned for his rival in last year’s polls.

So who is this man Timamy? Trained at the University of Nairobi as a lawyer, Timamy was born in 1959 in Lamu, where he also grew up. He went to Lamu and Sacred Heart primary schools before joining Allidina Visram High Schoool in Mombasa. Timamy worked for many years as company secretary and director at Sameer Group of Companies in Nairobi. In 2005, he was appointed chairman of the board of directors of the National Museums of Kenya, from where he resigned in 2012 to venture into politics.

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He still runs his law firm Timamy and Company Advocates in Mombasa and specialises in commercial law. A father of five, Timamy is married to Dr Hajara El-Busaidy, daughter of prominent scholar Prof Abdulgafur El-Busaidy.

Focus of the gubernatorial campaigns by Timamy and his rival was on Mpeketoni where the violence that came to haunt the governor erupted. The region has about 14,000 voters, mainly from the Kikuyu community. There are 52,000 registered voters in Lamu County. Mpeketoni usually registers high voter turnouts during elections, making it a rich vote hunting ground. Timamy picked Eric Mugo from Mpeketoni as his running mate, while Twaha chose Mr Raphael Munyua from the same division.

Land in Lamu is classified as Government land and has not been adjudicated. This is seen to be attracting land grabbers to the area.

According to a report by a parliamentary watchdog, only five settlement schemes have been adjudicated and distributed to the local squatters. The schemes are Lake Kenyatta which was divided into 3,480 plots - 612 in Lake Kenyatta II and 738 in Hindi Magogoni. Witu-Lamu and Hongwe have also been subdivided into 764 and 987 plots respectively.

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