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Munya and Kiraitu supporters disrupt Jamhuri Day fete in Meru

By Phares Mutembei | Published Tue, December 13th 2016 at 12:57, Updated December 13th 2016 at 13:14 GMT +3
Part of the National Youth Service contingent keeps watch as supporters of Governor Peter Munya and Senator Kiraitu Murungi clash during the Jamhuri Day celebrations at Meru National Polytechnic. [Photo: Peter Muthomi/Standard]

The fierce political battle between Governor Peter Munya and Senator Kiraitu Murungi played out during Jamhuri Day celebrations Monday.

Violence, name-calling and fighting reigned as the two leaders' supporters clashed during the event at the Meru National Polytechnic.

Shouts of "Munya must go!" and "Kiraitu must go!" rent the air throughout the event as MCAs supporting either politician engaged in name-calling in front of the crowd, even as the governor and senator sat quietly and watched.

At one point, police were forced to lob teargas canisters to separate the two groups.

The cold war between the senator and governor was clearly evident as they sat on opposite sides and did not bother to shake hands when Kiraitu arrived at the grounds to a wild welcome from his supporters, some of who wore Jubilee Party T-shirts.

Kiraitu sat with his allies who included Woman Rep Florence Kajuju, Imenti North MP Rahim Dawood, Imenti Central's Mwiti Irea, Deputy Speaker Gideon Kimathi and MCAs.

Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, who is eyeing the Senate seat next year and is one of Munya's fiercest critics, arrived in a helicopter and was escorted to the dais where he shook hands with the senator and his allies.

Governor Munya sat with Deputy Governor Raphael Muriungi, County Secretary Julius Kimathi, and county executives and MCAs allied to him.

Supporters fought

The two leaders' supporters fought for the microphone as they attempted to take over the event, resulting in scuffles.

Entertainment troupes were also divided as different groups sang songs in praise of the two kingpins. Every time a group sang, the leader being praised, together with his allies, stepped forward and danced in front of the large crowd that turned up.

County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia quietly sat behind Munya and Kiraitu.

Meru County Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga and his deputy also sat quietly between the two once-political-allies-turned-fierce-foes as Kiraitu campaigns to dislodge Munya in 2017.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's speech was delayed as the opposing supporters sang praise songs and at one point even threw chairs and punches as the event degenerated into chaos.

Police officers had to control the wild crowd to allow the President's speech to be read. Mr Nyagwanga began reading the speech at exactly 1:20pm and allowed no more speeches at the end.

Munya, ringed by his supporters and security detail, then boarded his vehicle and left. The senator left minutes later.

 South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi condemned the chaos and appealed for sobriety and calm ahead of the elections.

"Meru is bigger than all of us and we do not like the emergence of hooliganism in the county. It is important that we preserve the peace and ensure that we do not divide our people for political gain," he said.


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