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Power play and heightened political activities in Central

By | Published Sun, October 31st 2010 at 00:00, Updated Sun, October 31st 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Gakuu Mathenge

The anticipated removal of some players from politics by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has triggered a flurry of political activities in the Central Kenya region.

The ICC factor has complicated the Kibaki succession politics and November is poised to be a nervous month with ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo expected to issue indictments before Christmas.

There is anxiety in Central Kenya as Kibaki is set to retire in less than 18 months, and Moreno-Ocampo’s Christmas deadline draws close.

On Friday, Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri claimed powerful forces in Government were out to cut him to size over his presidential ambitions and prop Mr Amos Kimunya.

“They thought the Water ministry gave me too much political mileage on the ground. With ICC threatening to alter the political terrain, Mr Kimunya is being propped up to become a political kingpin and must be shielded from competition. These tricks will not work and must be resisted,” Kiunjuri said.

The Laikipia East MP became the first member of Government from the region to publicly accuse President Kibaki and Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura of acting in bad faith by transferring him from Water to Public Works ministry.

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MPs from the region never criticise Kibaki and Muthaura in public for fear of backlash.

“Like in the French revolution when generals were hanged to save political leaders, some of us have to be sacrificed to secure the succession designs of the rich and powerful. They blocked me from the Constitution Oversight Committee saying I am not PNU but GNU. I served diligently in the PSC up to Naivasha and GNU never became an issue. Why now? I’m shocked things have gotten this vicious,” Kiunjuri said.

Punished with a ‘demotion’

He said he worked hard for Government but had been punished with a ‘demotion’ for allegedly threatening succession designs of powerful interests.

Kinjuri’s brave attack on President Kibaki was a sign succession spasms were getting tighter.

Previously moribund parties have been pulled out of the closets, spruced up and reactivated in a manner unseen before since 2002 when the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) kicked Kanu out of power.

Presidential candidates are watching the region closely, keen to figure which force or a coalition of forces will produce potential rivals or running mates.

The Party of National Unity can no longer claim to be in charge as MPs and officials are busy building and joining other outfits.

“There are a lot of hyper political activities of both the defensive and offensive kind in the region. It is a strategy to take advantage of developments to fix others, and others trying to avoid being fixed. Politicians want to take advantage of the anticipated developments to be in good position in the succession lane,” history professor and political analyst, Macharia Munene, told The Standard On Sunday in an interview.

Besides PNU, Narc-K and Safina that have been active as distinct entities, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Democratic Party and the GNU party have lately been activated with a series of high profile meetings, retreats and public events that point to determined efforts to revamp the political outfits.

GNU Secretary General and former Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua staged a colourful relaunch of GNU in Nyeri, in a move viewed as an effort to make an impression in the county.

Former ministers Mutahi Kagwe and Njeru Ndwiga have reactivated the SDP as secretary general and national vice chairman respectively.

Mwandawiro Mghanga remains the SDP chairman.

Former Cabinet colleagues Mutua Katuku and Morris Dzoro (organising secretary and vice tourism secretary respectively), and a raft of senior public and private sector professionals are mentioned among those involved in the SDP revival project.

Former minister Chris Murungaru pulled out Metropolitan Minister Njeru Githae from Narc-Kenya to join him in revamping DP, President Kibaki’s former party.

According to Dr Murungaru, grassroots recruitment and elections kick off in December and will culminate in national delegates conference and national elections in February, next year.

Civil society activists and youthful professionals have been trooping to Safina, and it is just a matter of time before they hit the campaign trial.

But Mr Kagwe insists the new SDP is not just another run of the mill political party.

“No party has established itself in Central Kenya and national scene because they lack ideology. That is why people look for individuals. SDP has adopted the global social democracy ideology because after the new Constitution, the purpose of parties has to shift. They must refocus the entire development philosophy to be more inclusive,” he said.

Kagwe however declined to say who the other senior members of the party are. He said the party will be relaunched “soon”.

Sources say some senior civil servants and members of PNU attend SDP meetings and decision-making organs disguised as ‘observers’.

Some fear that the plethora of parties could split the region politically and the rivals could end up in the Opposition benches in 2012.

Bargaining platforms

“It is a succession battle of remaining relevant and creating bargaining platforms. Without a party one has no platform on which to negotiate and bargain on. That is why Martha Karua grabbed Narc-Kenya because she thought Uhuru Kenyatta beat her to the Deputy Prime Minister’s job because he was Kanu leader,” Prof Munene said.

PNU Secretary General and Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi says PNU was not worried about robust political activities by a plethora of outfits in its backyard.

Last week, he told a meeting in Meru he was just “listening” to the many voices to decide which had the best vision for the region.

“Like fish that can only thrive under the water or die, politicians cannot survive without political action. The difference is what purpose the political action serves. But I am concerned the region might split itself into the Opposition benches in 2012,” he said.

What became of the search for a political figurehead to consolidate the region’s vote in 2012?

“PNU is still waiting for its leaders Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka and Prof George Saitoti to agree who will lead the region to 2012 and under what arrangement. They are still talking. No one can force them to do that. As secretary general, I cannot take sides until they agree,” Kiraitu said.

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