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Waiguru vs Njeri: Governor takes on MP after post links her to attack

 Kirinyaga Woman Rep Njeri Maina and Governor Anne Waiguru. [File, Standard]

Even before the dust settles on what appeared to be a truce between Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and her fiercest political rival, former Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici, a new battlefront has been opened.

Before they reconciled in the presence of President William Ruto, Waiguru and Ngirici, could not see eye to eye ahead of last year's General Election.

On November 28, 2021, their supporters clashed in front of Ruto, then deputy president. The incident was a climax of the political drums that had been beaten by the two rivals angling for UDA leadership in the county, with Ngirici harbouring a sense of entitlement given that she used her resources to popularise the party.

In the latest political jostling, the battle pits the county boss against Ngirici's successor Njeri Maina, in a battle front that, just like in the past, has thrust the county into the national limelight.

The storm that had been forming exploded on Tuesday, August 22, when Njeri, the youngest in the National Assembly, was attacked, leading to her being admitted to Nairobi hospital.

Although the governor condemned the attack and called on police to take action against the perpetrators, her name has been dragged into the matter by among others; the majority and minority leaders in the National Assembly.

"I wish to condemn any acts of violence, and reiterate that, no matter the reason, we don't condone or tolerate violence," she said.

However, MPs while blaming Waiguru claimed she was behind the goons who had been ferried to attack Njeri and her supporters.

"We must condemn violence in all its shapes and forms. Violence is violence whether it happens in Kondele or it happens in Kirinyaga County," said Leader of Minority Opiyo Wandayi.

Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie said: "When the debate is lost, foolish people attack violently. When they saw Maina was rising, they decided to mete violence on her."

And the battle is getting messier. As the Woman Rep recuperates, Waiguru has given her seven days to apologise following her Facebook post insinuating that the "governor had sent goons to kill her".

Demand letter

In the demand letter, Waiguru said the post by the legislator would be understood by members of the society as "the governor was a murderer, considered to murder the MP and had no regard for the law".

"Your recklessness has caused and continues to inflict damage to our client's image and reputation," reads the letter.

The governor wants Njeri to publish an unconditional apology and to admit liability for her lawyers to engage her on the quantum of damages and costs consequential to her liability.

But the political activities that exploded on Tuesday were not a single event, they were a climax of the ongoing tiff in the county pitting the Woman Representative against a section of MCAs and Senator Kamau Murango on one side with Waiguru and a host of MCAs on the other.

Murango served in the last county assembly as the majority leader and he was one of the architects of Waiguru's ouster motion that led to her impeachment in 2019.

Political pundits say the governor is seeking to control the county politics and influence her successor as she positions for transition into national politics.

"What is at play is 2027 political angling and positioning with the senator planning to succeed Waiguru and he seems to coalesce with Njeri and some rebel MCAs in the county assembly," said Jonah Mutugi, a political commentator in Kirinyaga.

In March, five MCAs who are allies of the senator and the Woman Rep were kicked out of their committees after the assembly passed a vote accusing them of misconduct.

But the five protested the move claiming the resolution was a result of their dalliance with the two leaders and their criticism of the devolved unit.

The senator has been a harsh critic of the governor. He recently tasked the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare to investigate the alleged reduction of salaries for Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers in the county.

Political strategists in the county argue that local politics require hardened politicians. They believe Ms Maina's political sloganeering in last year's general election "she milks a lioness while sitting on a porcupine' was meant to instill public confidence that despite her little standing, she was brave enough to manage Kirinyaga politics.

Waiguru on the other hand was a battle-hardened politician who had demonstrated resilience in the face of tormentors. She had mastered the art of dusting herself and standing again whenever things went south.

Waiguru who was at the centre of controversy surrounding the National Youth Service (NYS) which many thought would crash her career proceeded to become the governor against all odds. She also survived impeachment by the county assembly after being saved by the Senate. She also survived the onslaught of Ngirici's deep pockets and was re-elected governor.

The wrangles left the Women Representative with head injuries but questions emerged about the extent of the injury.

She also appeared at the county DCI headquarters confined in a wheelchair.

"We only heard that she suffered a head injury but we later saw her confined in a wheelchair this has left tongues wagging on the extent of the damage and the relationship between head injury and her inability to walk," a resident noted.

As the political crisis continues, those who were there in yesteryears say the supremacy wars have reawakened what for a long time was presumed to be a dormant political volcano since the exit of such firebrand political supremos in Kirinyaga as former Justice Minister Martha Karua, Nahashon Njuno, Geoffrey Kariithi Karekia, and Kanu stalwart James Njiru.

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