Senator Mithika Linturi joins race for Meru governor

Senator Mithika Linturi when he appeared before a court over incitement remarks but the prosecution failed to charge him. [Fiule, Standard]

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi has declared he will be seeking to dethrone Governor Kiraitu Murungi in the August 9 general election.

Linturi's bid to unseat Murungi and become the third county boss comes after several MPs including Kathuri Murungi (South Imenti), Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri), Kubai Kiringo (Igembe Central), John Mutunga (Tigania West) and Josphat Gichunge of Tigania East said they would rally behind him.

Linturi made the declaration on Sunday in a charged atmosphere during the finals of a volleyball tournament sponsored by Kiringo at Maili Tatu stadium.

Most of the speakers, the majority allied to Deputy President William Ruto’s hustler movement said Linturi is the best bet for the job.

According to them, it was the turn of the Igembe subtribe to have the governor's seat.

 Kiraitu is from the Imenti subtribe, the largest while his predecessor, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya is from the smaller Tigania sub-tribe.

 Linturi's announcement came in the wake of DP Ruto's recent visits to Meru, in which he and his allies had pleaded with Kiraitu, the leader of the Devolution Empowerment Party, to join UDA.

Ruto, who is expected to visit Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties this weekend after jetting in from his US visit, had fired warnings when he visited Meru, asking Kiraitu to join his camp as UDA enjoyed wide support in Meru.

"But I am not running because I am from Igembe. It is because I have a programme that will spur development in Meru. I want to strengthen devolution," Linturi said.

Linturi said he and UDA had been the target of ridicule but they were determined to sweep elective seats for UDA.

"We have been insulted as UDA with Ruto, that we in UDA had nobody capable of running for governor. So we talked and decided UDA must present a candidate for governor," said the former Igembe South MP, and pleaded with residents to vote for a Ruto presidency and UDA candidates.

Kathuri Murungi will not defend his seat as he has opted to contest for senator in a bid to take over from Linturi.

Murungi said he decided not to seek a third consecutive term as MP because he wants to facilitate development for the entire county.

"I talked with the people who want me to work for the development of Imenti, Tigania and Igembe (regions). I want to contribute more to the development of the entire Meru, not just Imenti South," said Murungi.