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 supported 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 seats, one in Nyanza and another in Nairobi’s Embakassi South. So, on Thursday, they could not allow anyone to come too close to ‘Raila’s bedrock.’
Why Al Shabab Keeps on Attacking Kenya?
Al Shabab sees Kenya troop presence in Somalia as invasion and it singled out the country as a soft target
On the early hours of Monday morning, January 13, al Shabab fighters stormed a small town in eastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia, killing three teachers and abducted others.
The al Shabab fighters also set fire to a police station and destroyed a telecommunications mast. According to local reports, the attackers spared the life of a female nurse due to her gender.
Since Kenyan troops entered Somalia in October 2011 to fight the al Qaeda-linked group after it blamed the group of a series of kidnappings , al Shabab has carried out more than 150 attacks on Kenyan soil, targeting buses, schools, police stations, schools and shopping malls, killing hundreds.
The most brutal were attack s on a Kenyan army camp in El Adde killing 200 soldiers in 2016, a 2015 attack on a Kenyan college campus that killed 148 people, a 2013 attack on a mall in Nairobi that killed at least 67, and a 2019 attack on a hotel in Nairobi that killed 21 people.
Al Shabab has seen the presence of Kenya troops in Somalia as invasion and it singled out the country as a soft target. The government has invested in the army’s operation in Somalia while giving leeway to Shabab attacks inside Kenya.
The al Qaeda-affiliated group has stepped up its attacks both in Kenya and Somalia in the last few months.
The Kenyan security forces are bureaucratic and under-resourced. There have been intelligence failures of Kenyan intelligence agencies, and security forces’ slow and shambolic response, and al Shabab sees these weaknesses and takes advantage.
Al Shabab wants to terrorise Kenyans and mobilise its supporters and turn Kenyans against each other to create religious division. While carrying out attacks in Kenya, al Shabab mainly targets Christians, and in Somalia, they kill fellow Muslims.
Last week, the group attacked a joint US-Kenya military base in Lamu and killed three Americans, a soldier and two contractors. The attack on the Manda Bay Airfield was al Shabab’s first attack against US forces in Kenya.
At least four students have been killed by al Shabab fighters at a school in Garissa county.
On January 2, al Shabab killed four people when it attacked a convoy of buses in Lamu.
In December, the group killed 11 people including 8 police officers after pulling them from a passenger bus along Wajir-Mandera Road. Also, in December, five security forces were killed when their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb in Wajir. In Garissa, two construction workers were killed.
Al-Shabab’s offensive shows it is recovering after suffering high casualties from US drone strikes and pressure form the African Union forces.
Last year, the group carried out an attack on a US-run military base in Baledogle in southern Somalia.
Al-Shabab is fighting to topple the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, and implement its own version of Islamic law.
Formed in 2006, its initial aim was to fight Ethiopian troops after the overthrow of the Islamic Courts Union that ruled most of the southern and central parts of the Horn of Africa country.
Since then, it has been fighting successive Somali governments and the African Union troops stationed in the country.
It has been driven out of Mogadishu and other major cities by Somali forces backed by African Union troops, but it is still capable of carrying out high-profile attacks within and outside of Somalia. It has carried out attacks in several neighbouring countries, but Kenya, its western neighbour, has been the most vulnerable, despite the US significantly increasing airstrikes against the group and broadened its troop presence and involvement in Somalia in 2017.
Somalia’s Al Shabab Executes Man for Homosexuality
Somalia’s al Shabab group has executed a man accused of committing sodomy in the southern province of Lower Shabelle.
The group said the execution took place at a public square in Doon Buraale village of Doon Buraale near Qoryooley town on Saturday.
An al Shabab judge who read the court’s verdict at the site of the execution said the victim whom the group identified as Axmadeey Qaadi Maadeey was ‘found guilty of committing an act that goes against the Islamic law.’ The judge said the accused confessed to his crime.
The al Qaeda-affiliated group often carries out executions, beheadings, floggings, and amputations on individuals it accuses of crimes ranging from adultery to rape and theft. However, victims do not get fair trial and legal representation.
Al Shabab has been forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 by Somali forces backed by African Union troops, but it still controls large swathes of land in rural Somalia, where it enforces its own interpretation of Islamic sharia.
It is fighting to overthrow the Somali government and expel foreign forces helping the government to stabilize the country.
The group is also capable of carrying out high-profile attacks within and outside Somalia.
How Somalia Helps Trump Administration Deport Nationals From the US
On December 6, a chartered plane carrying more than 40 Somali nationals landed in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport. On arrival, they were removed from the plane and placed on a private jet and flown to Mogadishu.
Some of these individuals have never seen Somalia or they were there when they were young, and have built lives in the US.
The deportees have been languishing under ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention for over a year before they were deported.
A few of them were pulled off the flight at the last minute, according to Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who was leading a group of lawyers trying to keep the Somalis in the US.
Since taking office in January 2017, The Trump administration has devised measures to slow immigration and remove people from the US, and terminated TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for some countries.
“These were 40+ men with their own stories, lives, and experiences. Listening to their families here in the U.S. just breaks you at times. Our system is broken, the whole damn thing,” Ayoub said.
“When we started our work on Somali removals we were told that up to 4,000 Somalis are either in removal proceedings, or could be placed in removal proceedings. This is a significant number. I would not put it past ICE that they increase enforcement efforts in the community.”
What makes this even more troublesome is the role the Somali government played in facilitating the removal of these individuals.
The US pressures foreign governments to sign travel documents and do what they can to facilitate the removal of their nationals from the U.S. This is the way the system works.
The US is engaged in Somalia conflict, using Special Forces and airstrikes against al Shabab militants, and provides assistance to the Somali National Army. The US also provides humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa country, spending 3 billion dollars since 2006 to address the problems of drought, famine, and refugees.
Two years ago, ICE started raids in the Somali community. The community and the Somali Embassy were very vocal and put a stop to it. With a change in leadership at the Embassy the green light for raids will be given.
Somalis in the US continue to be targeted by ICE. Many of them have been there for decades and it is upsetting to see them rooted and sent to harm’s way.
If the Department of Homeland Security does not renew TPS, this will put hundreds of more Somali nationals in danger of being placed in removal proceedings, Ayoub told The Frontier.
The homeland security department renewed, but did not redesignate TPS for Somalis, allowing hundreds of Somalis to stay until March 2020. TPS protects foreign nationals already in the US when civil unrest, violence or natural disasters erupt in their home country.
TPS helps people to get employed, get drivers’ license as well as open bank accounts.
Somalia is one of the six Muslim-majority countries targeted by Trump’s Muslim ban. The country is still not safe for Somalis returning from the West.
Although Somalia is recovering from decades of unrest, it is still not safe, especially those returning from abroad. Al Shabab is still a threat and controls swathes of land and continues to target government installations as well as civilians.
US drones targeting al Shabab fighters are killing innocent Somalis in the process.
On March 28, a Somali deportee was among 15 killed when a car bomb exploded outside a hotel in Mogadishu’s Maka al Mukarama Road.
The new deportees could be become targets or get recruited into armed groups.
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