Azimio Mt Kenya leaders split over creation of Kamwene Unity Forum

Former Agriculture CS Peter Munya, Azimio deputy party leader Martha Karua and Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni. [File, Standard]

A section of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leaders from Mt Kenya have differed over the formation of Kamwene Unity Forum (KUF) by their colleagues.

KUF was formed on August 3 by Azimio deputy party leader Martha Karua, Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni and PNU leader and former Agriculture CS Peter Munya.

The leaders said the forum was formed to agitate for the interests of Mt Kenya region following the fresh round of bipartisan talks between the government and the opposition.

The group started public meetings on August 21 at Witeithie African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) where they vowed to fight for equal share of national resources, accusing their colleagues of abandoning the quest.

However, a section of leaders claim the choice of name, lack of consultations before forming the group indicate that just as the name, the leaders were pushing for their personal interests and not that of the region.

Led by former Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, former Gichugu MP Njogu Barua and Kamau Kamau who unsuccessfully contested for Kangema MP seat among others, want KUF to fold up for going against the tenets and the objective of Azimio of uniting the country.

“The name Kamwene has a negative connotation that propels dictates of individualism, isolationism and self-interests but the political future of our region can only be propelled through political partnerships with the rest of Kenya and not through such ideologies,” Barua told The Standard.

The former MP said the name ‘kamwene’ has been shunned by the Agikuyu and such ideals have been left alone since they are against unity and cooperation with the rest of the communities.

“The group is divisive and will not see light of day even among the community members because we believe in togetherness. The proponents of the group are only after their gains,” he said.

Kamau maintained that Azimio works with established political parties and not social groupings and urged KUF proponents to decide whether they want to pursue their agenda as part of the wider coalition or quit.

“Asked why he has not been joining the group in their private or Sunday service meetings, Wa Iria said he was busy pursuing inter-community and the national agenda to unite the country with other like-minded leaders.

He said he has joined Azimio co-principals and other leaders including Eugene Wamalwa (DAP-K), Prof George Wajackoyah (Roots Party) to pursue unity.

“I have been with Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka in Makueni to condole with a victim of police brutality, and later accompanied them to Eldoret for the Devolution conference, Homa Bay for a church service, Trans Nzoia and Siaya because we can only gain together alongside other communities,” the former governor said.

However, Kioni defended KUF proponents saying they were unapologetic about the move and denied that they were pushing their personal interests. “We have no apologies for being individualistic about the community interests and we shall soldier on. If Azimio can’t accommodate or stomach us for our quest, then that can’t be our home and we shall just decamp,” he said.

While denying that their group was ‘self-centered,’ the Jubilee Secretary General argued that they were pushing for equal sharing of national resources, quality representation of the region in the Kenya Kwanza government, minimum guaranteed returns and protection of constituencies, which risks delimitation.

“There is a widespread perception that the country has been filled with two tribes in the government departments but that is far from the truth. Our people have been slotted into positions equivalent to leading the cattle dips committee while the leaders are advocating for one man one plate one soda,” he claimed.

Kioni challenged Mt Kenya leaders opposed to the group to join them first and offer criticism instead of bickering from outside.

“They should join us and argue from inside instead of making noise from outside. The train has left the station and we shall table regional issues without fear or favour and nothing will stop us,” he said.

Asked whether KUF will morph into a political party and if Narc Kenya, Jubilee and PNU will fold up, Kioni declined to comment only saying, “It shall be better to push for our interests as a pact.”

Pundits believe Kioni and his team could be trying to establish a formidable force in the region to use on the negotiation table come 2027 General Election to demand a say in either Azimio or Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

“It’s a tactic to maintain political relevance in a double-edged manner, to demand their recognition in Azimio and Kenya Kwanza,” Charles Njoroge, a political scientist said.

Njoroge believes the group was only formed when no Mt Kenya leader was considered in the bipartisan talks on the Azimio side but after the internal push and pull, Kioni’s name found its way to the technical team.

Kioni said the group met on Tuesday in Gilgil and will meet again on Sunday for more engagements and consultations on the way forward for KUF.