Arguably, Aden Duale is the second most powerful person in Kenya today. Duale’s status stems from his office as the National Assembly majority leader.
The leader of the ruling Jubilee party dominates the floor of the National Assembly. He is the sponsor of all Government Bills.
Duale, who is also the Garissa Township member of parliament, plays a central role both in crafting major bills and in shepherding them through the legislative process from beginning to end, cultivating carefully the expectation that he is responsible for setting the House agenda and for regulating the ability of his colleagues to participate in the decision-making process by offering amendments.
Duale’s hold of this position is uncetain as Jubilee began a process to remove allies of Deputy President William Ruto from parliamentary leadership. His colleague in the Senate Kipchumba Murkomen has been removed from his position for allegedly violating party norms. The Senate Majority Chief Whip and the deputy speaker were also replaced. A number of senators allied to Ruto were also removed from committees membership.
Now, Jubilee is coming for Ruto allies in the National Assembly. Majority Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali and his Deputy will be removed. But it is unclear whether Duale, seen as a Ruto supporter, will lose his position which he held since the post was introduced in 2013.
There is already a good deal of mumbling about who will replace Duale should he be removed and what they will do as the leader of the majority party in the National Assembly.
Unlike Tangatanga, a group of MPs backing Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid, Duale openly supports the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), and advocates for the creation of a prime minister’s position.
Duale argues that the president’s and Raila Odinga’s initiative will cure the political dominance of the presidential seat by the big tribes. He says ‘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.’
Some believe the position will go to Northeastern region, though not a guarantee. But who can replace the Garissa Township member of parliament?
It takes something very special to be the Majority Leader of a ruling party, and it is not that being just a lawmaker fills the bill.
Just what qualities mark a man as fit for the leadership of the leader of a ruling party in Kenya’s National Assembly are undefined. But the imprecision of the standards in no way lessens the intensity of the belief that there are standards to be maintained.
Whether Duale survives the Jubilee purge or not, he will remain the greatest leader the National Assembly has ever seen, his portrait could adorn the House reception room. He will be one of the outstanding men and women in the history of the Kenyan parliament.
Duale is a man of eloquence, who can supply the oratorical gloss to finished legislation during floor debate, and has the legal skills that make him a superb craftsman behind committee doors. Duale has excelled at protecting government interest. That is why, despite seen as a Ruto ally, he has earned praise from State House for delivering on any assignment the president has given him in the House.
What determines which member of parliament to become a party leader in the National Assembly?
Energy, eloquence, wit, good humor, intelligence, frankness, honor—all these are worthy qualities, esteemed by the holder of the office of the Majority Leader. None of the members of the National Assembly from Northeastern region possess half of these.
These virtues describe the special qualities that make a lawmaker an excellent leader in the House.
The position of the Majority Leader is a national one. The holder serves his conception of the national interest. It takes time to develop influence in the parliament and a member’s greatness is measured by the reach of his influence.
The instinct or the drive in some members that takes them to the heart of the issues of their time is a quality that anyone aspiring to be a leader in the House should have. Since 2013, Duale engaged himself publicly in all the major debates.
Duale owes much of his influence to the simple fact that he studies more intensively and knows more intimately the provisions of the bills he is debating than the vast majority of his colleagues. Bringing in a new Majority Leader will delay government agenda in the House, as the new office bearer will need much time to familiarise.
The Garissa Township MP has not only achieved great reputations as spokesman for his region, but also developed national and global perspectives.
He has shown a breadth of interest and refused to be bound by the parochial concern of one’s own Constituency or county. A leader in the House should see beyond the borders of his own constituency.
Some will come forward to try to take over Duale’s job simply because they have nothing but their names to recommend them.
Seniority, talent, diligence, breadth of vision and a grasp of major issues will enable a lawmaker to contribute his or her full share to the making of national policy.
Although most of the members of parliament from this region do not know why they are in parliament, contributing almost nothing on the floor of the House, there are a few men and women of ability who have achieved distinction and performed well at parliamentary committee levels such as foreign, accounts and legal. But this alone is not enough to lead a major party in its legislative aganda.
White House endorses Somaliland, Taiwan diplomatic ties
The United States is backing the recent diplomatic engagement between Somaliland and Taiwan, a decision that will infuriate both Mogadishu and Beijing.
The support comes barely a month after Hargeysa and Taipei announced they are opening representative offices in each other’s capital.
On July 1, Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu said Taipei and Hargeysa had agreed to establish ties based on ‘friendship and a shared commitment to common values of freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law.’
The two sides have signed agreements in February 2020, but only made the details public in July. According to the agreement, the new relationship will focus on agriculture, education, energy, fisheries, health, information and communications, and mining.
“Great to see Taiwan stepping up its engagement in East Africa in a time of such tremendous need. Taiwan is a great partner in health, education, technical assistance, and more,” the US National Security Council said in a tweet.
The National Security Council is the principal forum used by the US President for consideration of national security, military and foreign policy with senior national security advisors and cabinet members.
The move by the US will enrage China, which says the People’s Republic of China represents ‘whole of China’ on the global stage.
China describes Taiwan as the most sensitive issue in its ties with the United States.
While the United States has no official relations with Taiwan, the Trump administration has ramped up backing for the island, with arms sales and laws to help Taiwan deal with pressure from China.
Taiwan is claimed by China, which sees the island part of its own territory. Beijing says the island could be brought l under its control by military force if it deems necessary. In elections and public opinion surveys.
Somaliland is a self-declared republic which broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991 when a coalition of clan militia toppled President Siyad Barre.
Although no country recognises Somaliland, it has an effective government system; has its own currency, a central bank, police, army and other state institutions.
Only 15 countries recognise Taiwan as an independent nation.
Somaliland is located in one of the most strategically contested parts of the world – The Horn of Africa. The region serves as a political and cultural bridge between Africa and the Middle East and borders the Red Sea — a gateway to the Suez Canal and a vital corridor for maritime trade.
Kenya to reopen places of worship next week
Kenya will reopen its places of worship in four phases beginning Tuesday next week, the Interfaith Council looking into opening of mosques, churches and temples has recommended.
However, there are guidelines to be met before the reopening takes place. These include; hand-washing, wearing of proper face-masks at all times, practicing social distancing, no more than one hour service, attendance of not more than 100 people at a time and people aged above 58 years of age should not be allowed in.
The council, working with the ministries of health of interior, said it had meetings where it received views from various religious leaders on how places of worship would begin operating in compliance with health safety rules.
Kenya closed mosques, churches and temples mid March after the country recorded the first few cases of COVID-19.
Somalia has a ‘man problem’, and it needs to fix it
This week, a group photo of director-generals of government ministries appeared on social media. The director-generals were 22, all men. Somalis asked, where are the women? No one in government bothered to answer that question.
While there are an uncountable number of professional Somali women, the photo gave the impression that there are no women who are qualified to hold this kind of work.
Somali women are under-represented in every sector of the society: economic, social and politics. The minimum quota for women in parliamentary representation is 30 percent, but this has not been achieved yet: women have just 24 percent of seats.
Although this is an improvement, women were not involved in the initial stage of the election. Currently, the Somali politics is a clan-based which requires male traditional elders to select delegates which would in turn elect members of parliament. Even if the country goes for a direct election, women will still face the same challenges.
Women rights are some of the many casualties of a three-decade old civil war in Somalia that followed the collapse of the last effective central government in 1991.
Somalia is now ranked the fourth most dangerous country to be a woman and the endless civil war continues to fuel violence against women.
The government has taken positive steps to create laws that guarantee women their rights, doing away all forms of discrimination in employment, politics and education. The problem is it has not been implemented.
For example, in 2016, the cabinet proposed a bill, known as the National Gender Policy, and sent it to parliament for approval. It is still lying there. If passed, we do not know when, women will the legal rights to earn as much as men and to run for political office, including the presidency.
A number of women have declared their interest to stand in the last presidential election, but withdrew their candidacy due to threats from al Shabab group and other sections of the society.
Islamic scholars as well as ordinary Somalis condemned the bill. They said it promoted Western culture by granting “excessive” rights to women, and some even thought it endorses same sex relationships.
Al Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the government in Mogadishu, has also condemned the gender policy at the time, saying it “promotes Western culture.” A pro-Al-Shabab website Somali Memo reported the policy under the headline: “Somali government passes law legalising same sex marriage.”
The country’s top Islamic body, the Somali Religious Council, reacted to the proposed gender policy bill. “It is a dangerous policy, which has nothing to do with Islam,” said Sheikh Bashir Ahmed, the council chairman.
It is a recipe for rebellion against their parents and husbands; a situation that is likely to weaken Muslim society, the council’s chair said.
In an interview with Radio Shebelle, Ahmed accused the peacekeeping force Amisom – African Union Mission in Somalia – of promoting the policy by helping organise women conferences. This prompted Information Minister Mohamed Mareye that Amisom was not involved in policy making.
Social media users reacted too, with many contributors mistaking the “gender equality” to mean same sex marriage.
The Somali Religious Council later said it supports the bill after consulting the government, although it insisted the policy gives ‘excessive right’ to women.
In 2013, a court in Mogadishu handed a six-month jail sentence to a 19 year-old woman who said members of the country’s security forces raped her. Two journalists who reported the rape were also jailed for “defamation and insulting state institutions.” Reporting on rape is one of the most sensitive topics in the conservative Horn of Africa nation due to culture and social stigmas.
And in 2018, al Shabab killed a woman they accused of being married to 11 women at the same time. They buried her neck-deep and stoned her to death at a public square in southern town of Sablale. Victims of al Shabab brutality do not get fair legal representation at al Shabab “Islamic courts”.
These are just examples, a big number of Somali women continue to suffer the same way.
Until the government changes its behaviour toward women and women in parliament and outside of it speak up for their rights, more than half of Somalia’s population will continue to suffer in injustice.
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