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Why Everyone is Afraid of Fatuma Gedi

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Fatuma Gedi, the Wajir County MP, is yet to have her best week since joining parliament two years ago. Her relationship with her male colleagues, especially those from her Northeastern region, an alleged explicit video, bribery claims in parliament, and her criticism of the county government of Wajir, led to attacks from plenty of people including her former supporters.

Fatuma has a way of attracting attention. Just two years in parliament, she has ignited controversy inside and outside the August House. She does not look and sound like other women representatives from northeastern region and is ready for a political fight with her male counterparts and she is letting everyone know about that.

Fatuma remains a controversial figure, no doubt about that. But why do her colleagues from northeastern region in parliament afraid of her?

Unlike other women legislators from the region, it is hard to dismiss Ms. Fatuma. Her controversy allowed her to dispel male political dominance. She has leant the art of Kenyan politics, and knows how to survive even with the introduction of the ‘handshake’ politics that has made life difficult for some.

For so long, she had a good rapport with the deputy president, William Ruto, until late 2018 when she cut ties with Tangatanga, a group of politicians allied to Mr Ruto and backing his 2022 presidential bid. The reason for her departure from Ruto’s camp remains unclear, but observers say it has something to do with Aden Duale, the National Assembly Majority Leader, and Isiolo County Woman MP, Rehema Jaldesa.

Fatuma and Rehema are among politicians who are too close to the deputy president, and Rehema might have gotten too close, necessitating competition for access to Ruto.

Aden Duale, a three-term member of parliament, is one of the country’s top politicians and the top most from northeastern Kenya. He is considered Ruto’s number one ally and confidant. He leads northeastern parliamentary group, and takes care of the group’s interest in the parliament as well as in the office of the deputy president.

The first-term Member of Parliament was trying to get closer to William Ruto than Duale. Unlike other politicians from NEP, she thought she did not need Duale’s approval to access Ruto. She had a direct link to his office.

In one instance, a meeting between NEP MPs and the deputy president was to take place at Ruto’s Karen office. As in the norm, the majority leader would meet the deputy president in advance for briefing. One morning, around nine, Duale arrived at Ruto’s Karen office to brief the deputy president. He found Fatuma already there, sitting with Ruto. He was baffled. Although he was the leader of the majority party in parliament, Duale felt threatened by Fatuma’s closeness to Ruto, and her access to him without his knowledge. This was the beginning of the beef between Duale and Gedi.

She dismissed Duale as a mere lawmaker during a political event in Habaswein in Wajir South early July, accusing him of trying to create chaos in an Embrace Team event. Embrace is a political grouping of women leaders who support the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and their agenda, which they said, was uniting the country.

Duale tries to intimidate me, and I will not let that happen, she says. She claimed Daule hired a chopper for the local MP Omaar Mohamed to disrupt her event.

Fatuma, who could be described as one of Kenya’s most controversial lawmakers, came to the public attention in August 2018 when reports emerged alleging that she bribed more than 100 members of the National Assembly with 10,000 shillings to shoot down a parliamentary report.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa claimed Fatuma Gedi tried to bribe him. He said the Wajir County MP approached him with an envelope containing 10,000 shillings but he declined to take it. Several MPs came out accusing Ms Fatuma of bribing some of their colleagues to vote against a report on the sugar industry in the country.

But the same members of the National Assembly who made the allegations against Ms Fatuma denied making such claims when they appeared before the Powers and Privileges Committee chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi. Although they were shown television clips and newspaper cuttings quoting them making the allegation, all of them said ‘we cannot remember making such statements.’

Fatuma was caught up in another controversy after a video allegedly showing her in a compromising situation with an unidentified man was widely shared on Kenyan social media arena, which she later involved four other lawmakers. The MP implicated Eldas MP Adan Keynan, Abdihakim Osman of Fafi, Kirinyaga County MP Purity Wangui and her Isiolo counterpart Rehema Jaldesa for defaming her by circulating the video that depicted her in a sexual mood. The Wajir County MP denied she was the woman in the video.

Later, the Powers and Privileges Committee found that Fatuma coerced a parliamentary staff into providing her confidential documents, including a letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly that purported to summon the four MPs to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to record statements.

In June, the first-term Party of Democracy and Reform MP accused Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim of punching her in the face inside the parliament compound for ‘failing to allocate funds to his constituency.’ Rashid Kassim was arrested but later released by a Nairobi court after he denied hitting Fatuma in the face after posting a bail of 50,000 shillings. Fatuma appeared to have been hit in the face and bleeding from the mouth, according to a photo circulated in the media.

Some observers say she is likely to lose her seat in the 2022 elections, citing loss of support from other constituencies because of focusing too much on Wajir South compared to other areas. Since assuming office, she had launched more projects in Wajir South than in any other constituency, spending most of her office’s budget here. She appears to be the MP for this constituency. Whether she will get re-elected depends on two factors, the emergence of strong candidate from her constituency and the number of other female candidates from other constituencies.

However, Fatuma could be eyeing the Wajir South parliamentary seat, trying to become the first woman in Wajir elected from a constituency. That is why she abandoned the rest of the county and focuses too much on her home constituency of Wajir South. This worries the area MP Omaar Mohamed.

Fatuma has shown everyone she is ready for prime time and ready to fight anyone who she feels threatens her survival.

Politics

The ODM Win in Kibra Is What Happens When You Have a Smart Ground Game

For Ruto’s Tangatanga group, the Kibra by-election was actually what Kenyans call ‘kwa ground, vitu ni tofauti’

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On Thursday, the people of Kibra reaffirmed their support for the Orange Democratic Movement party by electing its candidate Imran Okoth in a by-election seen as a popularity contest between former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the deputy president, William Ruto.

They voted to make sure ODM retains it seat after the death of its Member of Parliament Ken Okoth, even when Ruto spent unprecedented amount of money to change the voting pattern and flip the constituency to Jubilee – his wing of Jubilee.

“This is our bedroom, we must secure it,” Odinga told his supporters.  On Thursday, they did it.

The win was made possible by loyal party supporters and the kind of candidate ODM had in Okoth, and the party machinery that made the constituency one of its strongholds. It was also as a result of diversity of the party supporters and members.

Things were always good for ODM in Kibra. The party had the grassroots muscle but the desperate Tangatanga group began to use money and insults. But that didn’t matter; voters sent a clear message that it remains an ODM stronghold.

Money and division were on the ballot on Thursday, after a campaign polluted by insults from Ruto’s Jubilee, and dishing out money during the campaign and on the actual election day. But money lost.  Ruto and his team used everything – and nothing worked for them.

The deputy president promised the Kibra people prosperity if they elect his candidate. He dismissed the work of the late MP, Ken Okoth, who was regarded as one of Kenya’s best MPs when it comes on the use of constituency fund, and his projects uplifting the lives of his people – improving the standard of education, creating jobs for the youth, and creating enabling environment for local businesses to thrive, among others. Ruto paraded himself a champion of the poor when he is not.

Okoth ran a campaign that focused on housing affordability, providing water and electricity, expanding education opportunities, and continuing his late brother’s legacy to further develop the constituency.

While Ruto was not on the ballot on October 7 by-election, the Kibra race offered a reminder that his presence has pervaded the race.

Issues do matter in an election, but not so much in Kenya. However, in Kibra, voters must have looked at the work of Imran Okoth. Okoth took care of the Kibra constituents’ needs when his brother was ill and hospitalised in a foreign country. He was the chairman of the local constituency fund. Ruto’s candidate, Mc Donald Mariga, a former football player, is not a resident of Kibra and has never voted in any election, not even on Thursday because he is not a registered voter in the constituency he wanted to lead.

Ruto insisted this special election was a contest between the opposition party ODM and the ruling Jubilee. He was wrong. Actually, the Kibra election was a contest between the handshake and Tangatanga. Close allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta support Okoth’s election. It was between those backing the drive to unite the people of Kenya and those working hard to divide Kenyans along party and tribal lines.

ODM’s neglect cost the party two seat, one in Nyanza and another in Nairobi’s Embakassi South. So, they could not afford anyone to come too close to ‘Raila’s bedrock.’

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Politics

Kibra Voters Must Defeat Ruto’s Project

The deputy president has poured unprecedented amount of money and runs a zombie campaign in Kibra

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When the people of Kibra head to the polls this Thursday, they will have the chance to vote in one of the most consequential parliamentary elections the country has ever seen.

Bernard Imran Okoth, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate for Thursday’s Kibra by-election, is running against Deputy President William Ruto. Okoth’s rival in this race is actually a former footballer who was handpicked by Ruto, but voters in the overwhelmingly ODM constituency are aware that McDonald Mariga is just a project who is being used as a litmus test, and not a serious candidate with an agenda.

Okoth runs a campaign that focuses on housing affordability, providing water and electricity, expanding education opportunities, and continuing his late brother’s legacy to further develop the constituency.

Ruto is promising the people of Kibra ‘transformation’ if they vote for Mariga; ending poverty, building 5,000 units and creating employment. What prevented the deputy government from doing all these in the last seven years? The answer is very simple. Ruto does not care about the people of Kibra, he is just using them to test his political influence.

While Ruto is not on the ballot on October 7 by-election, the Kibra race offers a reminder that his presence has pervaded the race.

Now, Okoth is running against Ruto rather than the actual ‘Jubilee’ candidate. The Kibra by-election is a ‘vote against Ruto.’

By midnight, when Okoth is announced as the MP-elect for Kibra, William Ruto will get to know trying to ‘invade Raila’s bedroom’ was not an easy job. Raila Odinga, the former prime minister, will continue to maintain his political status in his bedrock spanning more than thirty years.

In a constituency that gave ODM’s Ken Okoth 78 percent of the total votes in the 2017 general election, it is would be very difficult for Ruto to deliver a Mariga win that he desperately needs. The fact is that Kibra remains an ODM zone. Ruto may have become popular, politically, in some parts of this country. He forgot that politics is still local. His candidate is not a resident of Kibra, is not a registered voter in Kibra, and has never vote not only in Kibra but in his entire life.

Ruto insists this special election is a contest between the opposition party ODM and the ruling Jubilee. He is wrong. Actually, the Kibra election is a contest between the handshake and Tangatanga. Close allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta support Okoth’s election. It is between those backing the drive to unite the people of Kenya and those working hard to divide Kenyans along party and tribal lines. A heavy loss in Kibra will devastate Ruto and his Tangatanga allies.

The deputy president has poured unprecedented amount of money into this race and is running a zombie campaign in Kibra to influence its outcome, aimed to ‘teach Raila a lesson.’ Instead, voters will teach him a lesson when they defeat his project.

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Politics

Gulf Geopolitics Threatens Somalia’s Stability

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Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi 'Farmajo'

When Saudi Arabia and three other Gulf countries and Egypt blockaded and cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in May 2017 for what they said was Doha’s “support for Iran and terrorism”, Somalia remained neutral and offered to mediate.

Unlike many Muslim nations which sided with Saudi Arabia and cut or downgraded their diplomatic ties with Qatar, Somalia called for a diplomatic solution to end the crisis. Saudi Arabia and its allies took Somalia’s stand as “support for Qatar.”

The Gulf crisis that was meant to isolate Qatar is ripping Somalia apart and created divisions between the federal and state governments.  Somalia’s regional administrations took advantage of Mogadishu’s weakness and sided with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in their efforts to sideline Qatar. The function of foreign affairs falls under the federal government and the states have no any role in it. It was a breach of the country’s constitution, according to the government in Mogadishu.

Saudi Arabia and its allies tried to persuade Mogadishu to end ties with Doha but the latter rejected the idea. The local media reported at the time that the UAE “tried to bribe President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo with hundreds of millions of dollars to side with them but Farmajo declined the offer.”

In 2014, when Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran after protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran over the execution of a Shia cleric, Namr al Namr, in Saudi Arabia, Somalia followed suit and cut ties with Iran, but denied it was siding with Saudi Arabia. It said Iran was a threat to its national security and closed down Imam khamanei Cultural Centre in Mogadishu. That same day, Saudi Arabia offered Somalia 50m dollars in aid.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is involved in a port modernisation programme in Berbera in Somaliland – a break-away region in northwest Somalia which declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 when President Siyad Barre was toppled by an alliance of clan militia. Abu Dhabi is also building a military base in Berbera.

Somalia considers Somaliland part of its territory and views the port deal between the UAE and Somaliland “null and void and against its constitution.” The parliament in Mogadishu nullified the military base agreement between the UAE and Somaliland. Another UAE-owned company, P&O, made a deal with Puntland – a federal member state in northeast Somalia and is managing the Port of Bosaso.

The Somali central government feels undermined when foreign nations make deals with state governments and says it has the constitutional right to sign every deal involving a foreign player on behalf of all Somalia – including Somaliland.

Relations between Somalia and the UAE deteriorated further when Somali security agencies seized a UAE plane carrying close to 10m dollars in Mogadishu airport. UAE said the money was meant to pay salaries of Somali army and an anti-piracy force in Puntland. Mogadishu said the money was meant to use to destabilise the country.

The immediate former leader of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, visited Dubai and expressed his support for the Emiratis after a diplomatic dispute between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi.

“Mogadishu is not Somalia, and Somalia is not Mogadishu,” he said.

For five years, the UAE had been training Somali forces and built an anti-piracy force in Puntland and paid their salaries. That came to an end in April when the two countries ended their military cooperation.

In retaliation, the UAE closed a hospital in the capital, Mogadishu, Sheikh Zayed Hospital, which treated more than 300 Somalis daily.

Qatar, which invested close to a half a billion dollars in health, roads, education and humanitarian assistance in Somalia, donated 30 buses to Mogadishu city administration, after the UAE stooped its assistance to Somalia. Qatar’s projects are mainly concentrated in Mogadishu.

The Gulf crisis and the differences it created between the Somali central government and regional administrations are undermining the government’s and international community’s effort to restore peace and stability and build an effective central authority. It could also destabilise the country and hamper the war on Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda-linked group which is fighting to overthrow the Mogadishu government.

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