Split in Mt Kenya on whether to widen proposed bipartisan talks

Those from Mt Kenya region pushing for the entrenchment of 'the region's interests' in the Constitution argue that this is the best time to have a fair distribution of resources to the voter-rich region and the issue of fair representation cemented in the Constitution.

The MPs include Mwangi Kiunjuri (Laikipia East), Njoroge Wainaina (Kieni), Betty Maina (Murang'a), Simon Kingara (Ruiru), Gathoni Wamuchomba (Githunguri) and Moses Kirima (Central Imenti).

The matter has brought rifts in the region with the leaders being labelled as rebels by their counterparts who believe their remarks could bolster the Opposition's demands. The leaders have however vowed to push on with their demands.

"Let us not assume that our problem in the region starts and ends with Raila. We are used to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar but what we get in return is not commensurate with our votes," said Murang'a Woman Rep Betty Maina.

"If we tell Raila to table his returns, the common denominator should be placing our demands. Let us not be told to keep quite, if talking more is defending our community I am ready to be counted as those talking too much. Other regions sponsor their children to undertake pilot courses and they get equalisation fund but that is not the same with us," added Maina.

Wamuchomba said although some people have been trying to silence their push to have the talks broadened with a view of constitutional review, they will continue agitating for the rights of their constituents.

"We will not be cowed to remain silent in the name of protecting the image of Kenya Kwanza administration, we support the government but we must also defend the rights of our people who sent us to Parliament, we want fair distribution of resources even as the bipartisan talks continue," she told The Standard on phone.

Kiunjuri decried the current infighting in the region, saying it will negatively affect the region. He said leaders who are independent minded were seen as enemies of the Kenya Kwanza regime.

"There is a lot of infighting with a section of leaders determined to control their counterparts, we should be careful because if we don't stand up and defend our community, in future we shall not be close to power," he warned.

Kiunjuri is on record calling for a referendum to change the current presidential system of governance which he claimed has failed the country. He has said time was ripe to change into a hybrid system.

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria called on leaders to stop mixing issues and urged them to propose legislation that will address the inequities of bursary allocation.

"We can't have cooks who are complaining that the food has no enough salt. Let our MPs go to Parliament and propose separation of National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) and bursary funds where the former will be equal to all constituencies and the latter will be based on population," Kuria said.

While Kiunjuri and his team are pushing for review of the 2010 Constitution, another group led by Njeri Maina (Kirinyaga), Maina Karobia (Eala), Mburu Kahangara (Lari), Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri) and John Kaguchia (Mukurweini) believe that adding other issues on top of the composition of IEBC will cause confusion and give Raila a leeway to spearhead his agenda.

According to Kahangara, those from Mt Kenya region calling for entrenchment of the region's agenda are out of order because they have no right to issue demands to a government they are part of.

"We already have stakes in this government, how then do we stand up and start issuing demands, we should give the government a chance to plan how to implement it's campaign promises and support it from any aggression," said the Lari MP.

Karobia chided his colleagues who seem to go against the grain, saying the leaders should make laws and bring Bills to Parliament on guaranteed minimum returns and not in trenches.

"If we combine guaranteed minimum returns and Raila issues we stand to lose. Parliament has power to enact laws to look into all those issues," said Karobia.

Kirinyaga Woman Rep Njeri Maina said: "Timing is everything in politics. We must be pragmatic in our approach. This is not the time for a conversation that would divide our people. Let us deal with the issue of IEBC first but we must have those other discussions sooner or later and not now."

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru said Kenya Kwanza leaders have agreed that it may not be wise to broaden the bipartisan talks as that would complicate the negotiation process and delay its resolution.

"However, I think the subject of one man one shilling and the GMR is a serious one for consideration. The question is how and when we should address it either through legislative process and if that fails then consider an alternative mechanism," the governor said.

This comes even as the Kenya Kwanza allied legislators are scheduled to attend a parliamentary group on Tuesday where unity among leaders and the clarion call to publicly support government will be addressed.