Africa-Press – Kenya. Mandera senator-elect Ali Roba is slowly emerging as the kingmaker in Northeastern politics.
Roba’s party, which he formed mid last year, surprised many by winning two governor positions, two senate seats, seven parliamentary seats and 36 ward representatives across the country.
It bagged the Mandera governor seat through outgoing Mandera speaker Adan Khalif and Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali, who retained the seat.
The party also took the Mandera Woman Representative seat through Umulkheir Kassaim as well as the Wajir Senate seat through Abass Sheikh.
In the National Assembly, the party won the Mandera North seat through Bashir Abdullahi, Mandera South (Abdi Wahab Harow), Mandera West (Adan Haji) and Banisa (Kullow Maalim). It also scooped the Laisamis and Lungalunga parliamentary seats.
In March, the party joined other outfits supporting Raila Odinga for presidency under the Azimilo la Umoja coalition.
During a rally in Mandera where he hosted Raila in June, Roba promised to deliver 100 per cent of the votes to him.
True to his words, Raila garnered a majority of the votes, getting 52,455, while Ruto got 9,844.
While unveiling the party, Roba said they were focusing on the livelihoods in the arid and semi-arid areas.
In an earlier interview, UDM secretary general David Ohito said the party was to fill the political gap in the entire Northeastern region.
“There exists UDM that is keen on championing for better education, healthcare and the interests of the people of Mandera and Northeastern,” Ohito said then.
He said the county has lagged behind in political representation.
“UDM is about service to the people unlike the Economic Freedom Party that went silent after the 2017 elections. We shall chart our path and decide which presidential candidate to support after putting our house in order,” he said.
UDM was founded in 1999 by politicians who were at the time considered renegades of the then ruling party, Kanu.
It was initially denied registration by the state.
Some of its leaders scattered to other parties in the run up to 2002 General Election.
At the time, UDM’s most prominent MP was Hellen Sambili, who served as Minister of East African Cooperation in Kenya’s grand coalition government.
The party was once subject to a leadership wrangle as a faction of ‘rebel’ ODM Members of Parliament, allied to Ruto, attempted to take control of the party to use it as their platform for the 2012 elections.
However, following resistance from the existing leadership Ruto and his allies opted to form the United Republican Party (URP) in December 2012.
Governor Roba ran on a URP ticket in the 2013 election.
In 2016, Kenya’s former Director of Public Prosecutions Philip Murgor was unveiled as UDM’s presidential candidate for the August 2017 General Election.