Suna East MP Junet Mohamed cuts the image of a politician in touch with ordinary people.

The 45-year-old soft spoken but cunning Lenana School alumnus is today the power-wielding henchman of ODM boss Raila Odinga.

With unquestionable loyalty, the former Migori mayor is undoubtedly one of the most powerful political gatekeepers for any political leader.

He holds unfettered influence around Raila and often determines who takes charge of his political events in the country.

Junet has risen to edge out some of the traditional Azimio presidential candidate’s confidants from Luo Nyanza.

Indeed, he is said to have engineered new ideological thinking around Raila from the radical, combative politics, to that of moderation.

The moderation is the glue that held the handshake — as some of Raila’s lieutenants publicly urged him to quit the ‘marriage’, for allegedly being ‘played’ by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Junet was the only MP in Raila’s inner circle who was aware of the handshake after a protracted 2017 election.

The trust he has with Raila has often put him on a collision path with some Luo Nyanza MPs.

Junet’s larger-than-life stature has grown over time to become Raila’s ‘Mr Fix It’ both in Parliament and outside the bicameral House.

Mvita MP Adulswamad Nassir, who schooled with Junet at Lenana, termed the MP a very straight forward politician.

“He hits the nail on the head. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He will tell you off if something is bad,” Nassir said, adding that Junet was shy in school.

Alego-Usongo MP Sam Atandi said Junet speaks his mind and is a passionate aide as “working around Raila is no mean task.”

On Thursday, Junet read out the resolutions of the Azimio Council —the top decision making organ of Raila’s presidential election vehicle —highlighting his growing influence.

While the meeting was attended by President Kenyatta and Raila as well as Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka, among other dignitaries, Junet’s choice continues to affirm his elevated place in the Azimio matrix.

Currently, Junet is the secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition, as well as the director of elections in Orange party.

In one of the heated debates in the National Assembly in June 2020 after President Kenyatta axed rebels from House leadership, Junet used the analogy of a cow to drive the loyalty point home.

“As for Duale [Aden, former National Assembly Majority Leader), when you see us following Baba like cows, it is because we fear the consequences (purge) like what you are facing today,” he said.

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

In a previous interview, Junet said his father moved from Mandera in search of business opportunities before settling in the South Nyanza town.

“He first settled and then brought his family. He actually travelled from Nairobi to Nakuru to Kisii town and was later told there was another town called Migori where there were business opportunities at the Tanzanian border,” Junet told the Star.

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 Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

The MP’s political star shone first when he broke the ceiling and was nominated as a councillor in 2002 at the tender age of 23 years.

It all started with his active participation in the 2002 general election when he led grassroots mobilisation campaigns.

He had participated in constituency campaigns in Migori—as it was called then (now split into Suna East and Suna West)—and supported Charles Owino Likowa, who finally won the seat.

Junet would later be nominated alongside his friend Okwanyo to Migori County Council. Likowa had introduced him to Raila and proposed that he be nominated on a Narc ticket.

He then went on to hold the mayoral position until 2012, having once again been nominated as a councillor by ODM in 2007.

In May 2012, Junet sought to join the East African Community Legislative Assembly.

He talked to ODM and was listed. He, however, fell short of the race, becoming number six, while ODM had only fives slots.

However, Junet’s power often evokes memories of previous power-wielding and trusted henchmen that surrounded past leaders.

They include senior civil servants like Nicholas Biwott and Joshua Kulei, who became errand boys to powerful leaders.

Political risk analyst Dismas Mokua said such gatekeepers are important as a buffer because they take the heat for their bosses.

“These insiders are also used in plausible deniability projects,” he said.

Courtesy The Star

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