ONE YEAR ON; HOW THE 2013 ELECTIONS WERE LOST
It’s almost a year, since the Kenyan general elections of March 3, 2013. Like most other counties around the nation, Marsabit County election outcome has received mixed reaction from different communities. Indeed Borana community is not satisfied by the result. Before we proceed to examine the cause of this particular election outcome, let us revisit some basic facts;
Under current setting, Marsabit County has four constituencies: Saku, Moyale, North Horr and Laisamis. Saku and Moyale, which are regarded as an economic hub of the county, have traditionally been Boran strongholds.
Beside the constituency, the county has a total of 20 wards, led by county representatives. The county reps sit in the county assembly which is the legislative body of the county. The distribution of the 20 wards across the county is as follow Moyale 7, Laisamis 5, North Horr 5, and Saku 3.
In the run up to the elections, here is what the political alliances were;
GABU candidates; –
Governor- Ukur Yattani- former North Horr M.P, Gabra
Deputy governor- Omar Abdi Ali, Burji
Senator-Godana Hargura- arguably the most influential opinion leader amongst the Rendille
Women rep- Nasra Ibrahim. A Garre from Moyale
Borana candidates; here we have two groups
Group A- Governor- Mohammud Ali- former M.P Moyale, Borana
Deputy governor- Hassan Marsa- Burji
Senator- Mohammed Gabow- former M.P Wajir North, Rendille
Women rep- Kureya Esintele- Rendille
Group B -Governor- Chachu Tadicha
Deputy- Khalif Abdikadir Ibrahim
The official results of 2013 Marsabit County election as announced by the Independent Electoral and Bounderies Commission is presented in the table below.
|WOMEN REP||Nasra Ibrahim||42,906|
|Naomi Waqo Jillo||20,364|
|Nuria Gollo Halake||4,628|
The Borana community and allies managed to secure 9 out of the 20 county rep positions. Of the nine, the Borans make up 6.
RUN UP TO THE ELECTIONS;
In the run up to the elections, there was heightened activity on both sides of the political divide. The Boran community was on countless occasions held up in meetings in a bid to front a common candidate. The two candidates, Hon. Mohammud Ali and Chachu Tadicha, had locked horns and were each unrelenting in their quest to be the community’s flag bearer. About a dozen meetings were held in Nairobi, Marsabit and Moyale but through their proxies the candidates scuttled the process.
In the meantime the GABU faction moved to consolidate their support base. The infighting amongst their biggest threat had given them the head start that would prove crucial. It was evident that no community could win the election alone, not even the mighty Boran. Opinion leaders like senator Hargura had even laid it bare for the Boran leadership, he would join forces with with the Boran only if one candidate was fronted. As time ran out, the infighting only got worse. GABU won Hon Hargura over and it is common knowledge that if a single event were to be the determinant of the election, that was it. The county was lost.
In the midst of all that confusion came during the crucial voter registration exercise. There is no need to belabor the importance of getting the community in their masses to turn up and register. The consequences were obvious. The Borans were still occupied with whom to front as their sole gubernatorial candidate. The GABU faction had long declared their candidates for the various positions, one for each if I may add. They now focused on getting their people out to register. From as far away as Nairobi, they came in their numbers, bus load after bus load. They had hatched an elaborate plan to not only control the county, but also wrestle Saku constituency and central county rep position from the Boran. They needed numbers and while the Boran kept themselves occupied with meetings, they poured in aliens from all sides including North Horr, Maikona and Bubisa.
Borans, at the last minute, responded and violence almost broke out once two lorries full of Gabra voters dumped about four hundred people at a registration centre. The voters were from Bubisa. Transfer of masses to such levels required a concerted effort from the aspirants and since the Boran side was divided, a suggestion to facilitate such an exercise was viewed with suspicion by the competing candidates. Thus, nothing meaningful was done. In the end, the Boran managed to convince only a handful of their own to travel back and register. When the curtains were drawn on the exercise, the GABU faction had boosted their numbers immensely and by concentrating their efforts on Saku, they had significantly shifted the demographics of the electorate. By the close of registration, it was score one for GABU and a classic case of too little too late for the Boran.
Events would later, by sheer stroke of luck, help the Boran hang on to the seats in Saku. It would also become apparent just how close GABU had come to push the Boran into political extinction. Assured of victory, GABU aliens had arrived in about two dozen sixty seater busses a day to election. They went on to make such provocative statements taunting the Boran community. They declared that ‘the new owners of Saku had arrived.’ This was a big mistake. If any Boran had doubts about the predicament they were in, this was it, and on the eve of the election the community in Saku put their weight behind a single candidate. The Boran in Saku survived by the skin of their teeth. The results tell a chilling story.
Results for M.P
|COL (RTD) ALI RASSO DIDO||8,560||BORAN|
|HUSSEIN TARRY SASURA||3,514||BORAN|
|JAMA WOLDE WEISA||5,064||BURJI|
|HASSAN WAKO JARSO||83||BORAN|
Results for county rep central
|HALKANO HALLO DABASSO||4,388||BORAN|
|MOHAMED ADAN SAFE||4,285||BURJI|
|ROBA ELEMA BONAYA||855||GABRA|
|DENGE WARIO GURACHA||75||BORAN|
|ADAN ALI GUYO||33||BORAN|
Had the Boran split their votes amongst their candidates they would have certainly lost. It has to be noted however, that sensing the impending doom, all the Boran county reps were prevailed upon to unite behind a single candidate, Halkano Hallo, who was selected by a gathering of the community. The decision came so late in the day that officially, all were in the race and their names appeared on the ballot papers. Despite making their decision to pull out public, some people went ahead to cast their vote for them.
Some GABU dissidents had also crucially helped split away just enough votes to secure victory, particularly for Mr. Hallo.
In neighboring Isiolo, the Boran lost a seat to parliament when wrangles within the community split their vote in to half. It’s a seat whose loss has repercussions that ring even in Marsabit. The circumstances of the loss are chillingly similar to how the governor’s position was lost in Marsabit.
|ABDUBA WAKO SAMA||7,192||BORANA|
|HASSAN ODA HULUFO||10,494||BORANA|
|JOSEPH SAMAL LOMWA||13,901||TURKANA|
ENTRY INTO JUBILEE
Despite the sorry state of Boran politics, GABU were still full of fear. Governor Ukur had publicly sought audience with the Boran, twice. He was turned down.
GABU held their first public rally under the auspices of president Kenyattas party, TNA. They officially launched their campaign as members of the Jubilee coalition. When Hon. Mohamud Ali, who was now leading a formidable campaign, announced he would vie on a URP (deputy president’s party) ticket, GABU was thrown into crisis mode. Being that both parties were members of the Jubilee coalition, they had ‘reason’ to panic. The parties were contemplating holding joint primaries to field only one candidate to face off with Odinga’s CORD coalition. Thus GABU felt they would lose to the Boran, never mind that they were still divided. GABU fled to CORD, leaving Jubilee to the Boran. That is probably the wisest decision the Boran made. Jubilee went on to win the election in the first round, clinching control of both houses of parliament; the Senate and National assembly. This would prove invaluable in checking the excesses of GABU as they took over the county government.
WHO TO BLAME?
It would be utterly unfair to vilify the entire community for the failures of the last election, as it would to give praise to another for an elaborate, well executed plan. The intrigues behind the political alignments were driven by a handful of political brokers who were trusted by their communities to deliver victory. The Boran think tank, the BPA (Borana Professional Association) in particular, were outsmarted, outmaneuvered and totally blindsided by their GABU counterparts. The association has since crumbled in on itself, and had lost public goodwill even before the elections were held. A famous political slogan even elaborates on their divisive ways. GABU professionals on the other hand managed to galvanize support from the very beginning. Long before elections, they held an event at Bomas, Nairobi, where they publicly spoke of an alliance between the Gabra and Burji. They then got the Rendille’s on board, and they moved to draw in other satellite communities. While these events unfolded over a period of several months, the Boran intellectuals watched on as if under a spell. The Boran think tank had failed in spectacular fashion.
GABU went on to win the elections last year. They maximized the returns from their strongholds, posting results with near unbelievable margins. Talks of electoral malpractices are really beside the point. The Boran had their strongholds as well. It was a matter of how the communities manipulated their strongholds.
The events of last year are regarded by the Boran, and by voices of unity and greater integration within the county as unfortunate and unacceptable. The county has since spiraled into violence and parts of it remain ungovernable. It is already a year since the elections and even as focus shifts to nurturing peace and developing the county, the Boran must stay vigilant not to be outsmarted by GABU one more time. 2017 is fast approaching and while it might not be possible to turn back the hands of time and erase the past, a lot can certainly be learnt from it.