Hot and dusty battles await Raila, Ruto brigades in Wajir
A fierce political battle is looming in Wajir County pitting Azimio la Umoja affiliates against their Kenya Kwanza Alliance rivals to succeed Governor Mohamed Abdi.
Abdi, who was reinstated to the office by court order after impeachment, has opted not to defend the seat owing to the credibility of his academic papers.
These were the bone of contention in his election petition — at the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court.
His exit has left the race open, with six candidates coalescing around Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Kenya Kwanza Alliance flagbearer William Ruto.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession race is also likely to influence the voting patterns in the county. Those who want to replace Governor Abdi include his deputy, Ahmed Ali Muktar, who recently decamped from Jubilee Party to United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
Ditched PNU for ANC
Also in Kenya Kwanza Alliance is Sheikh Mohamed, who ditched the Party of National Unity (PNU) for Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC).
In Raila’s camp is former county boss Ahmed Abdullahi (ODM), to battle against former Tarbaj MP Mohamed Elmi and Nairobi South proprietor Hassan Mohamed, both seeking to fly the Jubilee flag.
Incumbent Senator Abdullahi Ali, who is also chairman of United Democratic Movement (UDM), is in the race too.
Both camps are seeking to outdo each other and are banking on their growing influence in the county.
Abdullahi, an ardent supporter of Raila who held the seat between 2013-2017, is seeking a comeback amid a wave of defections in the county to Kenya Kwanza Alliance. He says the county is an Azimio stronghold and has dared his rivals to a duel, citing his development record.
“Our competitors should not just hop from one party to another. They should show us what they have done for Wajir residents and how they would address the various, local challenges,” Abdullahi said shortly after being endorsed by Masare sub-clan of Degodia clan on Sunday.
The ex-county boss said he was not in no hurry to reveal his political formations, adding that he would work with candidates in the Azimio lineup to form a formidable team.
Sources told People Daily that Abdullahi’s reluctance to unveil his lineup is due to ongoing talks between Uhuru and Raila to collapse different camps jostling for positions in the county.
“Raila and the President are consulting on how Jubilee, ODM and other parties that form Azimio coalition will form an inclusive line-up in Wajir,” the source said.
The race took a twist after DP Ruto unveiled UDA’s team that comprises DG Muktar (Ogaden), Prof Mohamed Elmi (Degodia) and Nairobi businessman Shallow Abdullahi (Ajuran), with nominated MP Nasra Sahal as the Woman Representative candidate. Abdullahi and Prof Elmi ditched Azimio coalition for Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
Said Ruto at a press conference in his Karen residence: “We are presenting the best team to form the next government in Wajir County and deliver on our listed priorities”.
Ruto said he intends to sign a charter with Wajir residents on what an UDA administration and a Kenya Kwanza government would deliver to them.
Muktar, while introducing his proposed deputy, Mohamed Elmi, defended his decision to join the ‘Hustler Nation’, saying his team was not under pressure to do so.
Dalliance with Kanu
Muktar earlier had a dalliance with Kanu, on whose ticket he was to contest. “After wide consultations with the community, we have formally decided to join UDA, which has been our home since 2013,” he said.
An informal agreement in the run-up to the 2013 and 2017 elections says the dominant Degodia community should take the post of governor, while the seats of senator and deputy governor should be shared between Ogaden and Ajuran clans.
Businessman Ahmed Muhumed Abdi has also announced his interest in the gubernatorial seat, setting the stage for a tough battle in the August 9 General Election. Muhumed, alias Cato, said on Sunday that he joined the race after “extensive consultations and public demand”. He hopes to unite a county previously marred by inter-clan conflicts.
In 2017, Muhumed contested for the governor’s seat on a Party for Development and Reforms (PDR) ticket but lost to incumbent Governor Abdi.