Turf wars stall formation of Mt Kenya East caucus
By FRANCIS NGIGE and MOSES NJAGIH
The much-touted Mt Kenya East Political Caucus has failed to take off due to squabbling among leaders in Embu and Meru, The Standard can reveal today.
In the region, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Gichugu’s Martha Karua have declared they will be on the presidential ballot in the coming general election.
The Uhuru "wave" was evident on Saturday during the homecoming ceremony of the Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau who has been elevated to Cabinet. During the meeting attended by G7 leaders, Murang’a County MPs who have been coalescing around Kenneth appeared to abandon him for Uhuru.
This was after different speakers at the rally proclaimed that the career of any political leader not in the Uhuru’s camp would be short-lived.
But as the elections approach, lack of cohesion among the local leaders in the Eastern Mt Kenya counties is casting gloom on the prospects of the region voting as a bloc.
A group of politicians from the eastern side of Mt Kenya had met and agreed to form a political caucus and break the tradition where the Kikuyu community has generally held sway when it comes to charting the region’s political future.
It started well, with MPs led by Tourism Assistant Minister Cecily Mbarire and Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti being the leading voices for the Embu, while Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi led the Ameru.
On Saturday, the G7 leaders present at the meeting in Maragua called for unity in Central Kenya so they can work with Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa and former minister Raphael Tuju among others. Led by Maragwa MP Elias Mbau, the MPs by pledged before a mammoth crowd at Kigumo Bendera playing grounds in Kigumo that they were behind the Uhuru presidency.
Mbau, Clement Wambugu (Mathioya), Muturi Mwangi (Kiharu) and Maina Kamau (Kandara) were previously linked to Kenneth who is from Murang’a County.But in Saturday’s meeting, all pledged loyalty to Uhuru, claiming he was being misled that they were not in his corner.
"I want to state here categorically that I am with Uhuru and people should stop saying that am not committed to the cause of uniting the region," said Mbau at Kenol trading centre in his constituency.
He added: "Those who have doubted my resolve have clearly seen that I am with Uhuru. We are going to stand by him in whatever circumstances."
During the rally, Kamau called all the MPs from the county (apart from Kenneth) to pledge before the crowd that they would work together for the unity of the region.
"There has been talk that some of us belong to a different camp and I wonder which one. Those are unfounded claims. I will remain solidly behind Uhuru as I know he is the most popular person among the people," Wambugu said.
Maina said contrary to assertions by some people, he was with Uhuru and supported his candidature.
The MPs appeared to bowing to immense pressure from most of the speakers in the rally who claimed outsiders were using certain politicians to divide the Central Kenya vote. "If the rest of the country recognises Uhuru as a national leader, I wonder why some people in Central are still fighting him. You should agree as a region that he is the leader so that he can work with others," said Dujis MP Adan Duale.
But it is the political supremacy battle between Mbarire and Kivuti in the Eastern caucus that appears to be working against the purported unity.
It began as a promising political grouping but appears to have disintegrated after leaders from the region began singing other tunes. Last week, Mbarire became the first high profile politician to leave the party for what she called sham grassroots elections.
And on Sunday, Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri confirmed that all was not well in the political grouping.
Although he downplayed the fallout, Kathuri said unity among the leaders in Central Kenya was paramount. "We are still together in the Mt Kenya East Political Caucus, but I can confirm that we have not been holding meetings as it is required," said Kathuri.
The MP said there is still a chance local leaders will unite under the Alliance Party of Kenya, which has already opened offices in the region.
"At no time will you roll out something or a programme that will attract everybody. It is healthy for people to have divergent views," said Kathuri.
Tigania East MP Peter Munya also dismissed claims the grouping is falling apart, saying it had pioneered the formation of the Alliance Party.
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