In the context of devolution, elections provide an opportunity to elect members of the county assembly, national parliament and the Governor who together with the Senator can rally resources for development to the county. In Mandera county, however, elections are usually associated with bloodshed between rival clans. In the 2013 elections, Mandera North suffered significant post-election violence, with many people killed and displaced from their homes and properties destroyed. This violence was a result of political tensions between the Gurreh and Degodia clans over the control of the Mandera North parliamentary seat. Wining of an aspirant is regarded as a win for that clan and the same case for the loss of an aspirant. This win-lose mentality, where the wins and losses of aspirants are regarded as communal for the whole clan, is rooted in the communities and has dynamically shaped politics in the county for a long time.
REINVENT through our downstream partner RACIDA supported a multi-dimensional inter clan conflict reduction project. The project had 3 interconnected objective: i) Promote police accountability, ii) engage proactive inter clan elders to find long-term solutions to the widespread violence and iii)ensure peaceful elections in two sub-counties of Mandera East and Mandera North.
The project commenced with a series of inter-clan dialogue sessions, where during engagement meetings community members raised their concerns about triggers of violence. From these submissions, the County Security team was able to map out a robust early warning and response framework that targeted youth engagement against incitement and early police action.
As the 2022 political season gets underway, there are notable changes in the way communities in the two constituencies of focus are currently engaging. There are no pure clan-based political alliances, and more community members are considering elections from the lens of development of the county rather than concentrating on which clan won which seat. Our engagement through RACIDA has been guided by the REINVENT election violence reduction approach that positions strengthened police-community relations as the fulcrum of community-owned peacebuilding initiatives. The tussle between clans is no longer evident in the current political campaigns, and communities are now demanding peaceful elections and are avoiding anything that may result in election-related violence.