The political fate of Mandera Senator Mohamed Maalim Mohamud, who is seeking to succeed Governor Ali Roba, lies with clan elders in a region where negotiated democracy is the norm.
Governor’s Roba’s second term is ending soon.
But even as Senator Mohamud eyes the top seat, he is not alone and will face four more aspirants from his clan in the race to succeed Mr Roba.
In Mandera, which normally practises negotiated democracy, Senator Mohamud has to face clan elders if he wants to be assured of being elected governor. Negotiated democracy is the practice of agreeing how to distribute political positions ahead of an election.
All the five aspirants, including the senator, are from the Darawa sub-clan of the larger Garre clan. It is from this pool that the elders have to agree, through negotiations and consensus, on one candidate.
Between November 25 and 28, elders from the Darawa sub-clan will be in Takaba town, Mandera West, to listen to and vet all five aspirants. The other four are Mr Yussuf Mohamed Issack, alias Yussuf Rafiki, Mr Feisal Abdirahaman Abass, Mr Abdullahi Ibrahim and Prof Issack Elmi.
The Mandera governor’s position is a clan affair, mostly a preserve of the Garre clan, the largest ethnic group in the far-flung county.
In a plan mooted in 2013, the seat is to rotate among the 21 Garre sub-clans and each is only allowed to hold the position for five years.
But Mr Roba overlooked the plan in 2017 and controversially won himself a second term, against the elders’ decree barring incumbents from seeking re-election.
Once the Darawa clan elders endorse a candidate, the person will face off with Mandera County Assembly Speaker Mohamed Adan Khalif, who has been endorsed by his Asarre sub-clan.
The two candidates will be presented to the Garre Council of Elders and the best will be picked and presented to the people.
Despite this well-orchestrated political plan, it has received opposition in the past and it is only in 2017 that opponents won against the council of elders.
In 2013, Mr Abdikadir Adan Chitto defied the elders and lost to Governor Roba, the elders’ choice then.
Even today, dissenting voices are rising and the outcome of the end month Darawa sub-clan conference will energise the opposition.
Mr Hassan Noor Hassan, who lost to the county assembly Speaker, has vowed to fight his own political war against the same elders who endorsed him in 2017.
“We are all headed to Takaba for the elders’ decision but from the look of things it will end with opposition,” said aspirant Mr Yussuf Mohamed Issack.
He said consensus was yet to be reached and it will be an uphill task to reach an agreement within the four days of the conference.
Reached for a comment on his prospects, Senator Mohamed said he is ready to accept the outcome of a free, fair and transparent process.
“I am hoping the process will be transparent to satisfy everyone who will be attending,” he said.
In 2017, Senator Mohamed and Governor Roba defied the elders and proceeded to win the elections.
Governor Roba has since acquired a political party in readiness for the 2022 elections and sources close to him revealed he is awaiting the decision of the elders before he begins to assemble his team.
“The governor has a plan to take over political power from elders and he is only sitting on the fence…he will build a team from those aggrieved by the council of elders’ decision,” our source said.
As the Darawa sub-clan meet to pick a candidate, the Asare sub-clan’s candidate, Mohamed Adan Khalif, is fishing for support from other sub-clans that form the larger Garre clan.
In the past one week, he has been meeting elders and professionals from the Furkesha and the Adola sub-clans in his efforts to win their support in the December scheduled Garre clan delegates conference.
It is at this conference that a candidate for the gubernatorial seat will be announced by the Garre Council of Elders.
“We are holding consultative meetings with elders, women and youth from the Furkesha sub-clan of the Garre clan. The main agenda of the meeting is to seek support for our gubernatorial candidate Mohamed Khalif and further reiterate our stand for unity among the people of Mandera,” said Mr Kullow Hassan Haji, a member of the Asare Council of Elders.