Speaker rises on point of order as region attracts presidential aspirants
POLITICS | By Joe Kirae | October 6th 2021
The political heat that has been building up in the central Kenya region could melt the ice caps on Mt Kenya by the time the electioneering fray reaches a climax in 2022.
Never before, since the advent of multi-party politics in 1992, has the Mt Kenya region become such a focal point of the presidential seat competition. Just last week alone, it would look like the presidential race will only be conducted in Mt Kenya, going by the number of visits into the region by the top contenders for the high seat.
The factors that have led to this scramble for Mt Kenya are clear. Key among them has been that, for the first time in a presidential election, the region seemed to start late in the day, without a domineering figure at the helm. The region has always voted for their own, whether they won or not. The perception this time around, buttressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he said in January – during the funeral service of presidential contestant Musalia Mudavadi’s mother Mama Hannah – that Mt Kenya and the Kalenjin community should not field a presidential candidate. However, the mountain region now appears to have rallied late to claw back lost ground and make serious bids for the presidency while staking claims for other positions for its leaders.
Where Ruto had initially seemed to ride downhill with little resistance, regional leaders have lately woken up to rally their people not to let go of the seat, or at least to bid for tangible positions in the next government.
Names that have launched a fight for the Mountain leadership include Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, Murangá Governor Mwangi wa Iria and former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri. Others who have laid demands for the region include Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru and now Health CS Mutahi Kagwe is also being mentioned as a likely contender.
Of the efforts launched by Mt Kenya leaders, Speaker JB Muturi is seen as the most vibrant, having started by going to great lengths to position himself as the region’s spokesperson. He has said repeatedly he wants to top seat, marketing his bid with the mantra for “order, integrity and prosperity”.
Over a week ago, Muturi was endorsed by the Democratic Party as their presidential candidate, which he has acknowledged. The party, that is credited with propelling President Mwai Kibaki – its founder – to State House, still holds forte and respect in Mt Kenya. A grand fete is expected to soon unveil the candidate, who has resisted overtures by several politicians to join the surging wave of Ruto in the region.
None of the other regional contenders is seen to carry the leadership clout that Muturi has, having been National Assembly Speaker for two terms, placing him as number three in the Executive pecking order behind the President and the deputy, and seen as a man with an acceptable demeanour that carries least negative baggage in comparison to other regional contenders.
However, if Muturi or any other regional leader carries the Mt Kenya leadership clout to the 2022 elections, they will have to wear enough amour to contend with titanic battles from outside the region.
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