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.
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’
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.’
Gulf Geopolitics Threatens Somalia’s Stability
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.
Duale Just Abandoned Ruto. Hold Your Applause
Aden Duale, the Garissa Township MP and leader of the majority party in parliament, has learned that the easiest way to earn applause from State House and contrast between himself and Tangatanga movement brigade is to support the Building Bridge Initiative spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Duale said he ‘was not anyone’s title deed,’ referring to media reports that he had dumped Deputy President William Ruto. It seems his remark was a rebuke to Ruto, who opposes any form of change to Kenya’s constitution.
Since March 2018, when President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to work together, and initiated a constitutional change process, Ruto has been the face of opposition to the initiative championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.
Ruto believes any change made to the constitution will deny him any chance of him becoming Kenya’s fifth president.
By taking a stance against Ruto’s position, Duale positions himself as the anti-Tangatanga movement, a group of politicians supporting Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid and opposing the BBI which seeks to change the way the country is being governed, and an independent politician. Duale is also positioning himself as Northeastern region power broker in the likelihood that the constitution is changed and regional kingpins will have a say in the formation of the next government. He is taking a risk although he cannot influence how northeastern people, except those in Garissa town, vote. His future political career depends on his support for the BBI. And he knows that. He is setting himself up as a regional kingpin.
Ruto-allied MPs know President Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga will make sure the BBI goes to referendum and have Kenyans vote for it, but are looking ways to frustrate the effort. The BBI itself is good for the country, it will help better how the country is governed and will give everyone equal opportunity at the political table. Ruto and his team do want change, and Duale may have realised the future belongs to BBI.
Duale argues that the president’s and Raila’s initiative will cure the political dominance of the presidential seat by the big tribes. He said ‘Raila and I are political bed fellows. I support it because it will give equal opportunities to all the communities in the country to have a share of leadership positions.’
Previously, Duale insisted the BBI was not anchored in the constitution and cannot be table in parliament for debate. Partnering with Minority leader in the National Assembly, John Mbadi, he tabled a motion in the House, making the BBI legally binding and to have its report received in parliament.
The bone of contention between Tangatanga and Kieleweka (politicians supporting BBI) groups is that the former believes BBI is taking power away from the people, and concentrate the decision-making process in the hands of a few politicians. But this is not the reality. It is the people who will decide whether they want to change the government system in a referendum.
In making this decision, Duale has weighed the impact it can have on him, at least for the remaining two and half years. Tangatanga MPs can pressure him to resign as their leader in parliament. He was a member of now-defunct Ruto’s URP party and through it he became the Jubilee party leader in parliament in 2013 when the party won majority seats in the National Assembly.
Duale has taken a road never expected of him. We all thought he would die for Ruto.
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