Mandera political leaders have thrown their weight behind President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga as a new wave of realignments sweeps across the country.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba, who in the past has been seen as Deputy President William Ruto’s point man in the region, led the political leadership in the region to pledge support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which many see as the vehicle to a referendum.
More than 45 leaders, including all elected MPs and senators, joined MCAs in what they called the Mandera Declaration. They argued their interests are better protected in the new-look deal to help push President Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda and quest for a united country.
“We the leadership of Mandera County reaffirm our continued political support to His Excellency the President and his partnership with Mr Odinga. We fully support the BBI. Mandera people benefited from the support we have given the government by being appointed to various posts in government,” the leaders said in a statement.
They said the statement had the support of Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan and Principal Secretary Ali Noor Ismail. The three did not attend the consultative meeting, though.
Those present at the meeting were Senator Mahamud Mohamed, Woman Rep Amina Gedow, MPs Omar Maalim (Mandera East), Abdi Mude (Lafey), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Kullow Maalim (Banisa), Ali Adan (Mandera South) and several MCAs.
The shift by the Mandera political leadership to President Kenyatta’s side came just a week after Governor Roba met Mr Odinga at the latter’s office in Nairobi.
Following the meeting, Governor Roba had said they discussed “a number of issues including continued partnership in politics. I also sought his advice on a number of other issues relating to governance and networking.”
Mr Roba, the only governor in Northern Kenya re-elected on a Jubilee Party ticket in the 2017 polls, has been a key ally of Dr Ruto in the region. In 2013, he was elected as the first governor on a United Republican Party, which was Dr Ruto’s party.
URP later merged with President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance and other parties ahead of the 2017 elections under the Jubilee Alliance banner.
On Thursday, Governor Roba led seven MPs in rallying support for the Handshake in Northern Kenya.
On security matters, the leaders appealed to President Kenyatta to ensure the relocation of foreign forces led by Somali fugitive Abdirashid Janan from Mandera County, arguing it was posing a security threat.