Somali elders differ over endorsement of gubernatorial candidate

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By Bruno Mutunga

A major political rift has emerged among the Somali community in Isiolo County, after a section of elders led by chairperson Mohamed Ismail announced the community’s support for Senator Mohamed Abdi Kuti’s candidature for the governor’s position, prompting a swift reaction from another group of elders led by the vice chair Abdulkadir Shariff Abdullahi saying that at no time did the community agree to support Dr Kuti.

While announcing their support, Mr Ismail said that the community wanted to retain the deputy governor’s position by appointing Dr Abdi Ibrahim Issa to replace Mohamed Guleid.

The community vice chair Abdulkadir Shariff however dismissed this, adding that the community was not interested in the deputy governor’s position since they had not benefitted from the same position through the incumbent Gulleid. He said that as Somali elders, they had instead opted to gun for the Isiolo North parliamentary seat with a youthful candidate Mustapha Ali their choice for the position.

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He held the view that the community had rallied their support behind Dr Kuti during the last three general elections, twice as a member of Parliament and once as a Senator but had nothing to show for it, adding that they would not support him for a fourth time.

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Senator Kuti however said that the Somali’s opposing him were not properly constituted because he had the 11 clan leaders behind him.

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Other elders including the immediate former chairman Adan Ibrahim, Mrs Fani Mohamed and Mohamed Idle termed Kuti’s endorsement by their colleagues as outrageous as the community was not in agreement over the issue as earlier announced by the chair.

They said that they had only witnessed development under the incumbent governor Godana Doyo for only four years, claiming that for the 15 years that they had supported Kuti, the people of Isiolo had very little to show for it.

Mr Sharriff held that Dr Kuti was coercing the Somali community to accept the deputy governor’s position and support his candidature terming the position as of no interest to Somalis. He said that they had the numbers to front their own gubernatorial candidate and challenged Dr Kuti to also settle for the deputy governor’s position if he was convinced that it was beneficial to the community.

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Dr Kuti’s running mate Abdi Ibrahim Issa however expressed optimism that the Somali community would vote for his side overwhelmingly despite the rift in the community.

The situation of a major division among the community had never been witnessed before as they used to put their votes in one basket since the elders were always in agreement over who to support for all political positions.

 

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