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Thursday, April 4, 2013

How Somali man clinched seat in Nyanza

By Nick Oluoch

Suna MP Mohammed Junet and his wife, Deka Jamaa, at their home. [Photo: Nick Oluoch/Standard]
Migori, Kenya: Mohamed Junet became the first Kenyan Somali to be elected Member of the National Assembly in Nyanza Province.
Although he is a former Migori town Mayor, having been nominated as a councillor in 2003, Mr Junet’s rise to become the first MP of the new Suna East constituency, attests to how far politics has evolved in Nyanza.

In the nominations, the MP beat strong candidates who included former area MPs John Pesa and Owino Likowa, to win the Orange Democratic Movement party ticket.

And in the General Election, the 35-year-old beat a host of candidates, to capture the seat, hived off from the former Migori constituency.

Speaking soon after he was declared the winner, Junet said unlike most parliamentary candidates who won on the basis of their clans, he had an all-inclusive campaign team.

“I could not simply come and try to make my campaign based on members of the Somali community,” he said.


He said his leadership would be all-inclusive and acceptable by all constituents to move ahead together.

Coming from a ‘minority’ community and vying against an incumbent, Junet was aware he needed to stage an effective campaign to attract many people.
The MP ensured his campaign was coordinated by people from all parts of the constituency to make them own the process.
The constituents had to come up with what they wanted the MP to do for them,” Junet said adding that he formed a number of campaign teams in every location.
Another thing that worked for the former councillor, is that although he has his roots in Mandera, Junet was born and bred in Migori town where he has many friends.
“Most older people here actually saw me grow up and go to school here,” he said, adding a number of his former school mates joined his campaign team.

The second born in a family of nine, the MP attended Migori Primary before proceeding to Lenana School in Nairobi, and eventually University of Nairobi where he pursued a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.

A businessman with interests in Nairobi and Migori, Junet believes his election to Parliament is clear sign that Kenyans have matured democratically and anybody with good vision could be elected despite his background.

“I believe I was elected because I presented the best policy to the Suna West people. My election can serve as an encouragement to those who feel they have something to offer but are not sure whether they can make it through the elections,” he said.

His father, Sheikh Nuh Mohamed, settled in Migori town where he set up a wholesale business in the 1970s.

Junet said he plans to ensure economic growth in the region during his term in Parliament.

“This is my home and I would want to leave a legacy,” he said. The father of five is married to Deka Jamaa.

Source: Standard Digital News

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