Fatuma Gedi, the Wajir County MP, is yet to have her best week since joining parliament two years ago. Her relationship with her male colleagues, especially those from her Northeastern region, an alleged explicit video, bribery claims in parliament, and her criticism of the county government of Wajir, led to attacks from plenty of people including her former supporters.
Fatuma has a way of attracting attention. Just two years in parliament, she has ignited controversy inside and outside the August House. She does not look and sound like other women representatives from northeastern region and is ready for a political fight with her male counterparts and she is letting everyone know about that.
Fatuma remains a controversial figure, no doubt about that. But why do her colleagues from northeastern region in parliament afraid of her?
Unlike other women legislators from the region, it is hard to dismiss Ms. Fatuma. Her controversy allowed her to dispel male political dominance. She has leant the art of Kenyan politics, and knows how to survive even with the introduction of the ‘handshake’ politics that has made life difficult for some.
For so long, she had a good rapport with the deputy president, William Ruto, until late 2018 when she cut ties with Tangatanga, a group of politicians allied to Mr Ruto and backing his 2022 presidential bid. The reason for her departure from Ruto’s camp remains unclear, but observers say it has something to do with Aden Duale, the National Assembly Majority Leader, and Isiolo County Woman MP, Rehema Jaldesa.
Fatuma and Rehema are among politicians who are too close to the deputy president, and Rehema might have gotten too close, necessitating competition for access to Ruto.
Aden Duale, a three-term member of parliament, is one of the country’s top politicians and the top most from northeastern Kenya. He is considered Ruto’s number one ally and confidant. He leads northeastern parliamentary group, and takes care of the group’s interest in the parliament as well as in the office of the deputy president.
The first-term Member of Parliament was trying to get closer to William Ruto than Duale. Unlike other politicians from NEP, she thought she did not need Duale’s approval to access Ruto. She had a direct link to his office.
In one instance, a meeting between NEP MPs and the deputy president was to take place at Ruto’s Karen office. As in the norm, the majority leader would meet the deputy president in advance for briefing. One morning, around nine, Duale arrived at Ruto’s Karen office to brief the deputy president. He found Fatuma already there, sitting with Ruto. He was baffled. Although he was the leader of the majority party in parliament, Duale felt threatened by Fatuma’s closeness to Ruto, and her access to him without his knowledge. This was the beginning of the beef between Duale and Gedi.
She dismissed Duale as a mere lawmaker during a political event in Habaswein in Wajir South early July, accusing him of trying to create chaos in an Embrace Team event. Embrace is a political grouping of women leaders who support the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and their agenda, which they said, was uniting the country.
Duale tries to intimidate me, and I will not let that happen, she says. She claimed Daule hired a chopper for the local MP Omaar Mohamed to disrupt her event.
Fatuma, who could be described as one of Kenya’s most controversial lawmakers, came to the public attention in August 2018 when reports emerged alleging that she bribed more than 100 members of the National Assembly with 10,000 shillings to shoot down a parliamentary report.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa claimed Fatuma Gedi tried to bribe him. He said the Wajir County MP approached him with an envelope containing 10,000 shillings but he declined to take it. Several MPs came out accusing Ms Fatuma of bribing some of their colleagues to vote against a report on the sugar industry in the country.
But the same members of the National Assembly who made the allegations against Ms Fatuma denied making such claims when they appeared before the Powers and Privileges Committee chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi. Although they were shown television clips and newspaper cuttings quoting them making the allegation, all of them said ‘we cannot remember making such statements.’
Fatuma was caught up in another controversy after a video allegedly showing her in a compromising situation with an unidentified man was widely shared on Kenyan social media arena, which she later involved four other lawmakers. The MP implicated Eldas MP Adan Keynan, Abdihakim Osman of Fafi, Kirinyaga County MP Purity Wangui and her Isiolo counterpart Rehema Jaldesa for defaming her by circulating the video that depicted her in a sexual mood. The Wajir County MP denied she was the woman in the video.
Later, the Powers and Privileges Committee found that Fatuma coerced a parliamentary staff into providing her confidential documents, including a letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly that purported to summon the four MPs to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to record statements.
In June, the first-term Party of Democracy and Reform MP accused Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim of punching her in the face inside the parliament compound for ‘failing to allocate funds to his constituency.’ Rashid Kassim was arrested but later released by a Nairobi court after he denied hitting Fatuma in the face after posting a bail of 50,000 shillings. Fatuma appeared to have been hit in the face and bleeding from the mouth, according to a photo circulated in the media.
Some observers say she is likely to lose her seat in the 2022 elections, citing loss of support from other constituencies because of focusing too much on Wajir South compared to other areas. Since assuming office, she had launched more projects in Wajir South than in any other constituency, spending most of her office’s budget here. She appears to be the MP for this constituency. Whether she will get re-elected depends on two factors, the emergence of strong candidate from her constituency and the number of other female candidates from other constituencies.
However, Fatuma could be eyeing the Wajir South parliamentary seat, trying to become the first woman in Wajir elected from a constituency. That is why she abandoned the rest of the county and focuses too much on her home constituency of Wajir South. This worries the area MP Omaar Mohamed.
Fatuma has shown everyone she is ready for prime time and ready to fight anyone who she feels threatens her survival.
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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