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Moses Kuria's meeting that set tempo for countering Raila's demonstrations

Trade CS Moses Kuria. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

On Sunday, over 100 leaders drawn from Mt Kenya convened at Thika Greens to discuss regional support for the Kenya Kwanza administration against planned opposition protests.

In the meeting hosted by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, the leaders resolved to counter Azimio-led protests in two ways; to deploy the youth to protect businesses in Nairobi and to stage counter-peaceful protests.

The meeting brought together five governors, Irungu Kangata (Muranga), Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Kiarie Badilisha (Nyandarua), Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Cecily Mbarire (Embu).

Kuria's lands counterpart Zachary Njeru, Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni (correctional services), and Chief Administrative Secretaries Elijah Gitonga (Labour and Social Protection), Dennis Itumbi (ICT), John Muchiri (Environment), Cate Waruguru (Foreign Affairs), Amos Chege (Cooperatives), Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Beatrice Nkatha (Treasury and National Planning) attended the meeting.

Also in attendance was Communication Authority (CAK) board chair Mary Wambui and her Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) counterpart Antony Mwaura. Over 20 regional members of parliament attended the meeting and a host of county assembly members.

"Enough is enough, we must deal with Raila once and for all. We can't watch as Raila destroys our businesses," Embakasi North MP James Gakuya declared, urging fellow leaders to pool resources together to facilitate the protection of businesses.

Ndia MP George Kariuki said it was imperative for the UDA supporters to crisscross the Nairobi region holding peaceful protests to 'teach' their Azimio counterparts how protests ought to be held.

According to Juja MP George Koimburi, government-allied leaders would deploy enough youths to defend any acts of aggression against businesses.

"We are clear and straightforward that we shall not watch as our hard-earned business are destroyed or close our businesses just because of one person," he said.

Governor Kihika called out those within the government who had developed cold feet and are calling for dialogue between the President and the opposition leader Raila Odinga. She said all Kenya Kwanza leaders must stand firm against "handshake."

"We fought the government for close to four years without resources and we can't afford to develop cold feet at this juncture. Instead, we should be calling for the government to 'firmly deal with Raila and his team," Kihika said.

Embu governor Cecily Mbarire harped on a similar theme, saying the government should not give in to Raila's demands.

"We should not relax after forming the government. There is a dangerous trend exhibiting amongst the leaders from the mountain to an extent that when they are invited for a presser they don't show up," decried Mbarire.

Kuria claimed that the first line of defence for businesses is the owners of the businesses themselves before the government comes in.

"The first line of defence for our businesses is ourselves. We must protect our businesses before Interior CS comes in with the police officers. We shall deal with the repercussions later," he said.

He also claimed that he decided to convene the meeting after getting intelligence on a planned dialogue and that the opposition had lined up demands which included ten cabinet ministry slots for Azimio.

He said the region had benefitted immensely from the Kenya Kwanza bagging top government jobs, including CS's, PS's, CAS's and parastatal jobs.

But when he rose to speak, Governor Kang'ata took a contrary position to sentiments expressed by the other attendees, warning against a sustained onslaught against former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"If you attend a burial ceremony, you don't speak ill of the deceased, you only shower the deceased with praises. If one 'dies' politically there is no need to drag his name as that will earn him sympathy from Kenyans," he said.

Kang'ata said instead, the government should seek the alternative of countering the former president silently without going public.

But the Thika Greens meeting was not all about protests and Raila. Leaders in attendance deliberated on how to work together to improve the fortunes of the economic and political fortunes of the region.

"There existed a disconnect between those who worked in the executive and the elected and we must ensure that it does not happen in this administration," Maragua MP Mary Wamaua said.

Governor Waiguru called on the leadership to work together and urged the political class to always show solidarity with President Ruto's administration.

"This is our government. We must defend it against any aggression. We are widely represented in this administration and we must take advantage of that for the benefit of our region. Remaining politically united will increase our chances of forming the future government," she said.

Kipipiri MP Wanjiku Muhia, however, claimed parliamentary leadership from the region had been sidelined in State House meetings and urged the leadership of the region to demand inclusion.

"We need to agitate for inclusion even as we continue defending the government," Muhia noted.

The leaders also decried the issue of sabotaging each other for selfish interests saying it was high time they celebrated each other for the sake of the growth of the region.

Monday, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Vice chair Wambui Nyutu condemned some of the utterances of the meeting, saying the deployment of citizens to fight fellow citizens could lead to a state of anarchy.

"Those in government should not be enticed to use goons to fight those they think have offended the law. National Police Service should be left to maintain law and order and bring culprits to book," Nyutu said.

Speaking to The Standard on phone, Nyutu said the commission has deployed its staff to public gatherings attended by politicians to monitor their speeches before evaluating whether they amount to hate speech for possible prosecution.

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