Leaders condemn rise of chaos in Mt Kenya rallies

Left, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu storms a function presided over by Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri in Nyeri. Right, Nominated MP Maina Kamanda after last Sunday’s clash with Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro in Murang’a. [File, Standard]
Political and religious leaders in the Mt Kenya region have condemned the upsurge of political chaos in the region as President Uhuru Kenyatta succession talk gathers momentum.

The spectre of violence looms large, as the race to succeed Uhuru starts to shape up and the erstwhile calm region becomes a political hotbed.

A number of chaotic scenes have been witnessed as two political factions contest for supremacy.  

Yesterday, leaders traded accusations over an altercation between Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and nominated MP Maina Kamanda.

The incident at Gitui Catholic Church in Kiharu Constituency on Sunday prompted Murang’a Catholic Bishop James Maria Wainaina to cancel all events in the church where politicians have been invited.

“I am hurting over what happened,” said the prelate.

Bishop Wainaina has demanded an apology from politicians over the incident.

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Meanwhile, Nyoro was last evening arrested in Murang’a and will be arraigned today. County CID boss Julius Rutere confirmed Nyoro was arrested by a team of GSU personnel at an event he was presiding over.

Despite being nearly three years to the next election, Uhuru’s succession politics has thrust his Mt Kenya backyard into the limelight, with high octane politics.

For the past three months the region has seen an upsurge confrontations associated with the factional Jubilee wars pitting Uhuru supporters against those of his Deputy William Ruto.

Members of the ruling Jubilee Party are divided between Tangatanga and Kieleweke political groupings, with each faction accusing the other of politicking at the expense of development.

In a region where violence has not been a hallmark of local politics, the recent incidences involving disruption of functions has sparked concern, with some religious and political leaders calling for cessation of hostilities.

Sunday was the third time a public meeting was ending in acrimony in less than two months. Last month, two similar functions were disrupted.

Agriculture CS

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s function to commission a water project in Nyeri ended prematurely after Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, a follower of Kieleweke team, stormed the venue with his supporters. Mr Wambugu accused the conveners of the meeting of “bringing politics in a development function.”

Two weeks later, Ngunjiri was at it again, storming a meeting convened by a group of women leaders under the Inua Mama Initiative, and accusing them of “politicking instead of supporting the President to achieve the Big Four agenda.”

Earlier yesterday, while attending his first public function in his constituency after the Sunday’s tiff, Nyoro said he was being threatened with arrest because of his close links with Dr Ruto.

“It should be noted that my mistake is failure to heed to Kamanda’s request that I support Raila’s political mission,” said the Kiharu MP.

He accused Interior and National Coordination Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho of being behind the plot to have him arrested.

Murang’a County police commander Josphat Kinyua said the MP was wanted for creating disturbance, assaulting a policeman and resisting arrest.

Kinyua, flanked by Mr Rutere, said Nyoro was not invited to the fundraiser. He said detectives were looking for the MP to charge him.

Rutere confirmed that his officers had been trailing the MP. “He should be advised to report to any police station before we go for him,” said Rutere.

But Nyoro argues that plans to arrest him have nothing to do with the Sunday incident.

“Plans to arrest me were not hatched at Gitui Catholic Church on Sunday, but in a private residence in Murang’a,” claimed Nyoro.

He said he spent the rest of last Sunday in hiding after a contingent of police trailed him to a TV station in Nairobi.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria criticised the Sunday’s public spat, saying it painted Mt Kenya region in bad light.

“Jubilee Kieleweke and Jubilee Tangatanga desecrated the House of God in Murang’a,” said Mr Kuria. “With more than 1,000 days to go before the next elections, the rest of the country is calm. One can be forgiven for assuming that the next elections will take place in Mt Kenya only,” he said.

Ngunjiri claims there is a larger plot to undermine Uhuru in his Central Kenya backyard by Ruto and his supporters.

“There is a political leader who has dedicated his intellect, political prowess and money to not only split the Mt Kenya region into different political camps, but to also make sure that one camp is more loyal directly to him than it is to President Uhuru Kenyatta,” said Ngunjiri.

Frustrating MPs

Kandara MP Alice Wahome said there was a plot to frustrate MPs from Central Kenya that were associated with Ruto.

“I am aware that there was a meeting that took place a week ago in Murang’a in the home of a senior businessman, where there were discussions to cut us down to size,” said Ms Wahome.

Earlier, Kiharu residents, some in support and others against Nyoro, clashed at a Press conference in Murang’a town.

In a forum to explain what transpired at the Gitui Catholic Church, the two groups clashed on who was responsible for the chaos. Ward reps Isaac Kamote (Wangu) and Charles Mwangi (Ichagaki) called for respect to the church, saying the incident was an embarrassment and regrettable.

However, Nyoro’s supporters, led by Joseph Ndung’u and Kamau Mwangi, said it was disrespectful for the Kamanda team to visit the constituency without informing the area MP. [Additional reporting by Boniface Gikandi]

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Frustrating MPsMt Kenya regionPresident Uhuru KenyattaKiharu MP Ndindi NyoroMaina KamandaTangatangaKieleweke