Why Garissa plays huge role in Jubaland politics

Ahmed Mohamed Islam, the president of Jubaland, speaks during a past presser at State House in Kismayu. [Amos Kareithi, Standard]

North Eastern Kenya plays a crucial role in Jubaland elections.

This is because politicians gather in the region to drum up support and establish a strong backing from the local community.

Garissa County, in particular, plays a central role in the larger Ogaden community.

This is why elections of Ethiopia’s Ogaden region have their base in the county. Abdi Ali Rage, a former senior advisor for ex-Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmojo has been making inroads in Kenya’s Garissa County in his bid to unseat Ahmed Mohamed Islam also known as Ahmed Madobe.

“We do our campaigns here because we believe someone has an upper hand when he has support here, they have a greater influence on their relatives across the border,” he told The Standard yesterday.

He said many residents living in the county have their relatives across and by getting their support on Kenyan (Garissa) soil, he will have an upper hand in the contest.

Rage has been busy meeting local elders in Garissa and Nairobi perceived to have influence in the semi-autonomous region whose power seat is in the port city of Kismayu.

He said while most candidates have been away in diaspora, he has been working in the region for 30 years and therefore understands the challenges and if elected would resolve them easily.

“Our biggest problem is insecurity, if elected we can bring all clans in the region together and have them on the decision-making table for a sense of ownership,” he said.

Jubaland is an autonomous region in southern Somalia. Its eastern border lies 40–60 km east of the Jubba River and stretches from Gedo to the Indian Ocean, while its western side flanks the North Eastern region of Kenya.

Kenya also plays a significant role in not only Jubaland administration but also the federal government. “What we lacking are strong institutions felt in every village, that is what I am intending to do should I be elected,” he said.

Rage said if elected next leader of Jubaland he will closely work with the federal government noting that he is a firm believer of the unity of Somalia as a country.

Working with the Kenyan administration he noted, is as he will push for stronger security collaborations for both countries.

This he said will easily help in containing al-shabab militants that have claimed lives of civilians and security officials. Madobe has been Jubaland state’s president since its establishment in 2013.