The divided mountain politics shows no signs of abating

From left, Raphael Tuju, Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth. [Collins Oduor/Standard]
The streak of pronouncements in the Mt Kenya region has shown no sign of abating as more provocative statements continue emanating from key leaders.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who many still consider as the region’s kingpin has constantly called on leaders to stop the 2022 succession politics and concentrate on development.

This has been ignored by allies of Deputy President William Ruto informally referred to as the Tangatanga team. The team’s main preoccupation in the last two weeks was countering the explosive declaration by Jubilee Party Vice chairman David Murathe last month that the party had no agreement on the Kenyatta succession or on any preferred candidates.

As the ruckus caused by Mr Murathe’s pronouncements at the annual Maragoli Cultural Festival died out, the Jubilee Party Secretary General and Cabinet Secretary Raphael Tuju stoked the fire further this week when he confirmed that indeed Ruto was not the party’s automatic 2022 candidate.

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By last week, those supporting the Jubilee vice chairman’s sentiments included the Kikuyu Council of Elders while the Tangatanga pointmen such as Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa have taken their Ruto crusade to new heights in appearances with the DP outside Mt Kenya.

A little noticed political development in the week was remarks by second term South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi that the Mt Kenya East counties of Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi need a political party of their own to negotiate better for the national cake and for political horse trading.

High level backing

The remarks of the independent MP an ally of Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki is seen as a pointer that the DP’s loyalists are considering a punitive reaction to apparent approval of Murathe’s remarks by the JP faction allied to the President.

“Pro-Ruto MPs were knocking each other in asking that Murathe be censored by the party or removed, only to be surprised by the qualifying remarks by Tuju and Uhuru’s disinterest in the whole saga,” said one political observer from the region. “This can only mean that Murathe has high level tactical backing.”

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In spite of the strong pro-Ruto commotion by Team Tangatanga, there also appears to be a consensus that Kenyatta cannot be written off from the region’s politics for now which explains why Moses Kuria ate his words yesterday after questioning the Head of State’s development record in this backyard.

Almost all politicians we interviewed for this story said the President held the key to his succession in Mt Kenya.

“He is our leader and will guide us into the next dispensation,” said Kathuri.  Political analyst and the former Meru chairman of the United Republican Party James Mithika said anyone imagining Kenyatta was not in control of his succession would be in for a rude shock.

“The political fluidity is likely to continue until the last days of his presidency but Uhuru is likely to play a very prominent role in his succession.”

Linford Mutembei who chairs the Jubilee allied Mt Kenya Youth Caucus said in the midst of the divisions in the region, no politician was likely to consolidate the votes Kenyatta got in the 2013 and 2017 elections.

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Mt Kenya regionPresident Uhuru KenyattaDeputy President William RutoJubilee Party Vice chairman David MuratheMt Kenya politics