Epic duel looms in Wajir West after court verdict

Petitioner for Wajir West parliamentary seat Ibrahim Sheikh of KANU at the Milimani law courts on January 16, 2019. [Photo, Standard]

A bruising political duel is in the offing in Wajir West constituency after the Supreme Court nullified the election of MP Mohamed Kolosh on Friday.

Chief Justice David Maraga, Justices Mohamed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Jackton Ojwang, Njoki Ndung’u and Isaac Lenaola agreed votes had been manipulated to favour Kolosh in the August 8 2017 polls.

Kolosh had a 447-vote margin against petitioner Ibrahim Sheikh, but if the votes which had been inflated were deducted, the court said, the results would have tilted the win in favour of the latter. But even before the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sets a date for the by-election, polls fever is already evident in the cosmopolitan constituency.

On Friday, Kolosh of ODM laughed off his loss, vowing to bounce back and reassuring his supporters that he would be the man to beat. "You are either with me or with my rival," he challenged his supporters.

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Sheikh of Kanu hit back, saying he's ready to turn the political tables on his political rival. “In a fair process, I would beat him hands down. I beat him in 2017 and I will floor him again. Victory will be for the people. You can see they have panicked and are already stroking tension. The DCI should take note,” Sheikh told Sunday Standard yesterday.

Strategy meetings

Already, strategy meetings by both camps have started with several factors likely to be at play. To observers, serving in office for barely two years and losing a seat is a big upset for Kolosho, who also has the burden of incumbency. It is also unclear if ODM will retain him as its flag bearer given his links with Jubilee.

It is widely believed Sheikh is planning to work with Prof Mohamed Yussuf Elmi, who unsuccessfully contested in 2017 on a Wiper ticket, to beef up his chances. Talks between them are at an advanced stage. Former MP Abdikadir Ore Ahmed has also thrown his hat in the ring.

Sheikh faces the herculean task of battling a well-resourced rival. However, the Kanu man enjoys a strong grassroots network. He also has the ear of his party's top echelons. "Ibrahim is a master of grassroots organising and his actions convey he’s in touch with the people," said Aden Yusuf, a voter.

But of a significant effect will be the clan factor. Wajir West is dominated by the Aljuran and the Degodia. Kolosh’s Degodia has 60 per cent of the registered voters while the Aljuran, where Sheikh comes from has 40 per cent. However, some sub-clans within the Degodia backed Sheikh in 2017. If that trend repeats itself, it will tilt the arithmetic.

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Chief Justice David MaragaSupreme Courtnullified the electionMP Mohamed KoloshWajir West constituency