|Gichugu MP Martha Karua meets DPM Uhuru Kenyatta, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa and MP Elias Mbau in Kawangware. [Photo: Collins Kweyu/Standard]|
By Juma Kwayera
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential bid faces serious challenges in his Mt Kenya backyard following a concerted push by influential lobby groups to convince him to stand down in the interest of national healing and reconciliation.
The Kikuyu Council of Elders, while recognising Uhuru’s constitutional right to vie for political office, in resolutions made at Methodist Church headquarters in Nairobi on July 27, argues the stability of the country supersedes personal or individual ambitions. The meeting was a follow up of two previous ones.
However, in uncharacteristic show of might and defiance, Uhuru has embarked on repulsing incursions into his electoral territory that has shown cracks since the entry of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and the United Democratic Forum (UDF) into the fray.
Perceptions that President Kibaki is partial to Mudavadi have thrown Central Kenya into confusion, although Assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri, who is close to Uhuru, says Kibaki and Uhuru enjoy a healthy working relationship.
“They work closely. Uhuru initiated the recent Cabinet reshuffle. The two consult regularly and the President implements 90 per cent of what Uhuru wants,” Kiunjuri, the Laikipia East MP says. The Assistant minister concedes there have been mixed signals on their relationship in the recent past. He predicts a significant shift after political party nominations, which he says will give a clear picture of political drifts in the populous region.
“They (Kibaki and Uhuru) sometimes seem to be at crossroads; they also appear to be playing games on their supporters. I talk to the two of them regularly. All I can say is we (in Mt Kenya) don’t want to be like a butterfly that flies itself into fire. We are treading cautiously,” he says.
The emerging realignment comes at a time when another group of progressive Kikuyus operating under the Kikuyus for Change umbrella is seeking to make a break with central Kenya power hegemony and resource allocation by pushing for the election of Prime Minister Raila Odinga to succeed Kibaki.
The rebellion extends to Meru counties, where Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi, whose Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) publicly stated the region will no longer support the Kikuyu in the coming presidential poll. The Meru counties are either drifting to UDF or ODM. One of the elders pointed out: “ Uhuru has lost the conservation. He can only dialogue. His events are being snubbed.”
Both the Kikuyu for Change and Kikuyu Council of Elders are informed by deep-seated anti-Kikuyu sentiments that precipitated in the ethnic conflagration of 2007-2008 triggered by the disputed presidential election. In a statement titled ‘Talking Points’, the elders observe that no community “has the desire, need or even capacity to either isolate itself from the rest of us or build an independent nation-state, or to get rid of others for that matter.”
Uhuru’s frustrations in Central, which his allies deny, are further compounded by reports that Kibaki has bought into the argument it is imprudent to be succeeded by a kinsman and is silently backing away from the Gatundu South MP, who in 2007 sacrificed his candidacy to support him.
Added to fears that Uhuru is likely to be indicted by the International Criminal Court over post-election violence that claimed 1,133 lives and displaced more than 500,000 people from their farms.
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