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Somalis protest Kenya's 2019 population outcome amid scramble for power

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Kenya could be engulfed in a tough political debate following the release of national population census results on Monday, two months after completion of enumeration exercise, Garowe Online reports.

President Uhuru Kenyatta received a breakdown of the country's population which plays a critical role in resource allocation, delimitation of administrative boundaries among others.

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director Zachary Mwangi, the country's population is 47.6 million, an increase of about 9 million for the last decade.

In acknowledgment of the importance of the exercise, Uhuru hailed KNBS officials, noting the duration the officials took to deliver results.

“We are the first country to release the census report two months after the exercise was conducted,” he said.

"I thank all enumerators and officials involved in the census process. I am grateful to all security personnel who ensured peace prevailed during the census period."

But the results could cause a political storm, with a section of Somali community taking to social media to pole holes unto the outcome.

Fundamentally, the Mandera County data has sparked heated debate on social media after KNBS indicated that the county had a drop of 15 percent from the last census exercise in 2009.

"From 2009 census, in kiambu there is a population increase of 49% and 12% decrease in Mandera. It means in Mandera, there is a high death rate and no birth has occurred since 2009. This is a cooked result. I condemn with the highest term possible," observed Mohamed Social on Twitter.

"Does it mean no one was born in Mandera county for the last 10 years? Ama watu walikuwa wanakufa tu? Things are not adding up walahi!" Protested Mohamed Ali.

An in-depth analysis shows that the Mandera population dropped from 1.20 million people to 867,000 people. Wajir County recorded an improvement of 100,000 people from the last census, with the current figure placed at 781,000 people.

For Garissa, the current figure was placed at 841,000, an increase from 630,000 people in 2009. Curiously, there are more men than women in Garissa.

"In 10 years, the population of Wajir County increased by 100k Only? Things are not adding up," Abdihakim Keinan tweeted.

"The number of Males is more than females that itself raises eyebrows," added Abdullahi Deen, who noticed the peculiar trajectory.

The three counties constitute Northern Frontier Districts (NFD) and are classified as marginalized regions by the government of Kenya. They are predominantly occupied by members of the Somali ethnic group.

In general, the region has a total population of 2.5 million people, an increase of only 250,000 from the previous census exercise held a decade ago. This excludes Somalis residing in other parts of the country.

With Kenya's politics dictated by ethnic mobilization, Somali politicians could use the detected anomalies to evoke a national debate. None of the senior Somali leaders has reacted to the latest figures.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who mobilized Somali's to turn up for enumeration, has recently called for the abolition of the presidential system of government.

The Garissa Town MP argues that the heterogeneous composition of Kenya's population can perfectly live in harmony in the event the country adopts a parliamentary system of government.

"BBI should recommend a constitutional change from a pure presidential system to a pure parliamentary system so that Kenyans can share the economic resources equally and end to political and economic dominance," he tweeted recently.

His position has been endorsed by former Prime Minister and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who says the parliamentary system will solve Kenya's chaotic electoral culture.

The country could adopt the system which gives a chance to all communities in the next leadership through a much-anticipated referendum sometime next year.

Somali community, besides the significant contributions to the political discourse, plays a fundamental role in the country's economy. Most businesses across the country are owned by people of the Somali ethnic group.


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