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Somalia’s Galmudug, battered by political crisis, elects new leader

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Ahmed Abdi Kariye, a former state minister for public works, has been elected president of Somalia’s central state of Galmudug in an election that saw multiple delays and political wrangles.

Kariye, also known as Qorqor, who was backed by President Mohamed Farmajo and Prime Minster Hassan Kheyre, received 66 votes out of 77 votes cast by members of Galmudug State Assembly.

Kariye’s main rival, Abdirahman Odowaa – fronted by two former presidents – Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, withdrew from the contest and rejected the outcome, citing interference from the federal government in Mogadishu, which he said was planning to manipulate the election. Two other main contenders also withdrew from the race.
Galmudug parliament has 89 members, 20 of whom are drawn from Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama’a, a Sufi paramilitary group.

Galmudug’s election, which was to take place in July last year, has been postponed for months due to political wrangles among local political actors and the federal government and ‘technical challenges.’ The bone of contention was the composition of the local electoral commission, which the opposition parties including Ahlu Sunnah, said was handpicked by Mogadishu, a move they said was undermining democracy and could open the door for manipulation.

The election of Kariye indicates the seriousness of the Villa Somalia duo; President Farmajo and Premier Kheyre, of making sure their preferred candidates win in Somalia’s regional elections. Last week, another Villa Somalia-backed candidate won Galmudug parliamentary Speaker.

Somalia has five state governments, created under the country’s federal constitution, each maintain its own police and security forces, and have a degree of autonomy over their affairs, but are subject to the authority of the federal government.

The states and the federal governments have been engaged in disagreements, with the former announcing the suspension of ties with the government in Mogadishu.

In December 2018, Abdiazizi Mohamed, commonly known as Laftagaren, a former Water and Energy Minister, also backed by Villa Somalia, was elected leader of South West State after Mukhtar Robow Abu Manusr, a former al Shabab deputy leader and spokesman, seen as favourite to win was barred from running and later arrested. The government said Abu Mansur was a security threat and was subject to UN Security Council sanctions. Eleven people, including a parliamentarian, were killed in a protest violence that followed his arrest.

Kariye’s victory is seen as a boost for Farmajo and Kheyre who are seeking reelection in 2021. Three out of the country’s five state governments are seen as allies of Mogadishu.

In 2019, Villa Somalia failed to install or get its preferred candidates elected in Jubbaland, a southern state, and Puntland, in the northeast. In August 2019, Jubbaland state in southern Somalia reelected Ahmed Islam, popularly known as Ahmed Modobe as its leader, but the government in Mogadishu and the local opposition rejected the result, saying it was manipulated. Mogadishu was backing Madobe’s main rival who later withdrew from the contest.

The legitimacy of the new Galmudug administration is in serious jeopardy and a prolonged conflict is potentially high in Galmudug. The state already has two other opposing administrations, one led by Ahlu Sunnah, and another led by the region’s former leader Ahmed Gelle.

The election of Kariye could also lead to a political crisis and possibly violence by those opposed to the electoral process, including politicians and clan elders who wield immense influence. It could also result further disintegration of the state into fiefdoms run by sub-clans, who have engaged in armed conflict with one another for long. Galmudug has 11 main sub-clans, more than any other state. Galmudug is the home state of President Famajo, Prime Minister Kheyre, and the former immediate President Hassan Mohamud, and it is the defecto epicenter of Somalia’s politics. The state was established in 2015, but since then it had four presidents.

To avoid armed conflict and anew circle of political crisis, the new administration, with the backing of the federal government, should accommodate others and a power sharing deal could calm the situation, possibly the creation of a premier or chief minister.

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Politics

Joho wants to be Raila’s running mate

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Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho is demanding to be picked as Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate in this year’s presidential election to return a favour to him and the Coastal people who have been supporting the ODM leader for close to two decades.

Governor Joho, who is also the ODM deputy party leader and who dropped his bid to contest as the party’s flagbearer in the August 2022 General Election in favour of Mr Odinga, is now asking the party to pick him as a running mate in the coming elections.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

Mr Odinga is yet to name his preferred running mate.

Mr Joho is eying a national leadership position after ending his final term as governor.

In September last year, Mr Joho dropped his presidential bid in favour of his party leader after he was promised an influential Cabinet position.

He says he is ready to retire from local politics to join the national arena.

While giving his New Year message, the Mombasa governor said he will contest for the presidency in the 2027 General Election.

“This time around I am not on the ballot but I am drumming up support for Mr Odinga. But 2027 will be my year; I will vie for the top seat. Were it not for my people’s support I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I give you thanks. I love my people so much,” he said.

He added, “I will not be here after the polls, but I don’t take it for granted that for the 10 years I have been at the helm, you have been with me wholeheartedly, supporting and loving me. I love you very much Mombasa people.”

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Somali premier forms committee to investigate ‘attempted coup’

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Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has appointed a special committee to investigate his attempted suspension by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, local media report.

On Monday, Farmaajo suspended Roble from his duties as he was under investigation for suspected corruption.

The prime minister’s office called the decision a “failed coup d’etat” and Roble accused the president of trying to sabotage upcoming elections to remain in office and urged the armed forces to report directly to the government.

The committee includes close allies of the prime minister, such as the ministers of defense, security, education and public works.

Earlier this week, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the Somali authorities to engage in dialogue to find ways of ending the political crisis in the country.

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I am not power hungry, says Raila

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ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that he is looking for political fame and power to benefit himself.

Raila said his only aim is to uproot the corrupted system of governance and establish a strong foundation for socioeconomic and political growth for country.

“I don’t dream of staying in power forever but I want to live good leadership for the future generation to come,” he said.

Raila said he is energy is projected towards improving the lives of the citizens by eradicating poverty through proper education, a health system and a platform for massive investments.

The ODM leader said it is a pity that many years have passed yet illiteracy, poverty and diseases are still an issue of concern despite having plenty of resources to exterminate them.

He said the time has come for Kenya to devise new ways of tapping investments and creating employment opportunities for the benefit of every citizen and not a few individuals.

Raila said he wants to increase food and nutrition security by setting up improved water and agricultural projects.

He told locals to reject wheelbarrows and choose a government that will ensure enough and respectable jobs are provided.

“Don’t be told that Kazi Ni Kazi, we want you to have good employment, not just a job,” he said.

Raila said he will ensure that each Kenyan has access to cheap and affordable healthcare services.

He spoke on Wednesday spoke at Matuga Girls’ High School in Kwale county during his Azimio La Umoja popularization campaign.

Raila promised the locals that he will improve the fishing systems and set industries for processing and value addition for the fish produced locally.

He said Kwale has vast resources lying dormant that have not yet been fully exploited.

The ODM boss said with the right leadership the unstable economy can be resuscitated and stabilized.

Raila said he will address the prolonged Kwale water shortages and capacitate local farmers to produce enough food.

He said countries like Namibia, Brazil and Egypt are doing great because they have better development plans and Kenya is no exception.

Raila assured locals that his dream is valid and applicable if only given an opportunity.

He warned citizens against being bought on cheap money and remain strong to realize their dreams of making Kenya a better place.

Raila also cautioned locals to shun tribal politics and embrace peaceful coexistence.

He said Kenyans must live together as one and appreciate all gender for the country’s prosperity.

“Let’s not alienate ourselves on tribal, religious or gender,” he said.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said Raila was the leader Kenya is longing to have.

He said Raila is loyal and focused and the solution to the country’s many problems.

“Leadership is not about chest-thumping and Raila is not like that, with him Kenya is in the right place,” he said.

Kenneth urged locals to vet leaders before blindly electing them to power.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said Raila’s agendas reflect the needs of the Kwale residents.

He warned locals against choosing unproductive and visionless leaders whose main agenda are empty talks.

In the morning Raila had a closed-door meeting with ODM grassroots leaders and welcomed new members to the party in Diani.

The ODM team officialy welcomed former Kinango MP Gonzi Rai in the party.

Source: The Frontier and The Star.

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