Garissa gubernatorial race reduced to three clan war

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022 09:30 | By
Garissa Governor Ali Korane during a past Campaign in his county. PHOTO/KNA

The race to unseat Garissa Governor Ali Korane is turning into a three-horse contest as the lead contenders hail from three major sub-clans of the Ogaden clan making up the six constituencies of the county.

Garissa County is dominated by the Auliyahan, Abudwaq and Samawathal sub-clans of the larger Ogaden clan also demarcated as electoral units. The devolved unit is divided into Garissa Township, Fafi, Balambala, Dadaab, Lagdera, and Ijara sub-counties.

Abudwaq dominates Balambala, Garissa Township, and Fafi; while the areas around Dadaab, Lagdera, fall under the domain of the Auliyahan. Ijara is considered a stronghold of Samawathal.

Although there are also minority clans, Ogaden sub-clans control Garissa County, and their members compete to extend their influence.

Since the advent of devolution which ushered in a devolved system of government in 2013, these three groups have been in intense competition over the control of constituencies and political posts, 2022 elections will not be an exception.

The Abudwaq have more influence within the national government, but the Auliyahan are making up for this at the county level.

The Abdalla, a minority within the Abudwaq tend to ally with whichever group offers better terms.

Incumbent governor Ali Korane and his fierce challenger former military man Dekow Mohamed Barrow hail from the Abudwaq sub-clan which occupies Fafi, Balambala, and portions of the Garissa Township constituency.

Garissa Township constituency majorly cosmopolitan is led by Aden Duale and is also home to Degodia, Akamba, Kikuyu, and the Ameru.

Former governor Nadhif Jama comes from the Auliyahan sub-clan that resides in Dadaab and Lagdera constituencies.

Current Senator Abdul Haji, the son of former Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji is from the minority Samawathal subclan residing in the Ijara constituency. In terms of clan matrix, the Samawathal have always acted as the swing votes in the governorship race.

With the battleline drawn, the contest is shaping up to be a repeat of the 2013 and 2017 General Elections clash between Korane (Abudwaq sub-clan) and Jama (Aulihian sub-clan).

This even as clan affiliations continue to hold sway in Garissa County and have prominently featured in the campaigns as the race for the top positions shapes up.

In the 2017 general elections, Garissa County had 163,350 registered voters with the enrollment of new voters the numbers are likely to shore up.

According to the 2017 General Elections statistics, the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ranked the Garissa township constituency with the highest number of votes at 54,291 votes.

Fafi constituency was ranked with the least number of votes at 19,883. Others are Balambala at 20,145 votes, Lagdera 20,547 votes, Dadaab 25,762 votes and Ijara at 22,722 68 votes.

Picking a running mate is critical in the clan matrix as it’s the main negotiating item, akin to national politics. The successful individual is expected to whip his clan to vote for his would-be boss.

In 2017, Samawathal elders entered into a pact with Abduwaq under the Tolomoge alliance where they shared elective seats on the Jubilee Party ticket.

Huge demands

Abduwaq took governor, Woman Representative, and Garissa Township MP positions while Samawathal was given deputy governor and Senate positions.

Tolomoge Alliance may not work this time round going by the huge demands of Samawathal which wants the Garissa Township seat currently held by Aden Duale as well as Township and Fafi ward representative positions.

Both aspirants have picked their running mates from the Samawathal sub-clan. Jama, who is running for Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Saturday picked Korane’s deputy Abdi Dagane as his running mate for the August polls.

Dagane, Samawadhal preferred choice for the deputy governor position, has had a strained relationship with his boss.

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