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Handshake splits Central as MPs take on former leaders

By Kamau Maichuhie and Nderitu Gichure | Jul 8th 2018 | 3 min read
Raila’s meeting with a group of former legislators ignites fresh battle between Jubilee nominations rivals. [Courtesy]

A supremacy battle between sitting and immediate former MPs seems to be gathering steam in Central Kenya following a meeting between a group of former legislators and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, last week.

The three-hour closed door meeting has deepened mistrust between elected leaders and their rivals, which started with the Jubilee Party primaries last year.

The group that met Raila comprises individuals who unsuccessfully vied for the last elections as independent candidates following claims they were rigged out to pave way for a weak leadership that will have little say in the 2022 succession.

Fighting the handshake

The ex-legislators issued a statement Wednesday accusing a section of sitting MPs of fighting the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila on March 9.

Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando said there were MPs from Central Kenya fighting the Uhuru-Raila ‘Building Bridges initiative’ started after the handshake between the two leaders.

He said residents and business investors in the area are celebrating the ongoing crackdown on corruption and the handshake that has brought peace to the country.

“With the handshake, the “insult Raila business venture” has collapsed in Central Kenya. Political leaders desperate for relevance are now left with only the option of fighting these who are pro-handshake,” said Kabando.

The former MP said it was obvious that the country was now divided into two distinct camps – those supporting the crackdown on corruption and those seeking to sabotage it.

“We have chosen to be with President Uhuru Kenyatta all the way and to accept his deal with Raila for our motherland to re-unite and prosper,” said Kabando. “If UhuRuto was marked as dynamic duo, UhuRao is indomitable duo,” he added.

But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, one of the leaders from Central, who came out guns blazing, accuses Raila of of seeking to divide the Central Kenya voting bloc ahead of 2022.

Gachagua claimed Raila was keen to wreck the Jubilee Party ahead of the 2022 polls and was using some of the leaders rejected in last year’s elections.

“He is now trying to create mischief in Jubilee because we have elected leaders in Mt Kenya who should talk on behalf of the people,” said the Mathira MP.

Muriithi Kang’ara, the Kirinyaga Jubilee Party chairman, also came out strongly against the Raila meeting, saying it was a wider scheme to try and block Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.

Kang’ara alleged politicians from the area who met the Opposition leader recently are bitter with the party after they lost in last year elections.

He also scoffed at the leaders for criticising politicians from the region supporting the DP through the now famous Tangatanga slogan.

But former Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji, who was among the leaders that met Raila, played down the 2022 agenda. He said their meeting discussed the welfare of the country in the wake of the handshake between the two leaders.

Mr Gethenji said they did not discuss President Kenyatta’s succession but the journey to unite the country.

“We assure those insulting us that we respect all elected leaders in Kenya, starting with those from our region, but we are no captives and will no longer stock any phobia,” said Githenji.

Funds drive

Those who met Raila also issued a statement to dismiss claims by a section of MPs from Central Kenya that they were being used by Raila to divide the region ahead of 2022 General Election.

Former Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura, ex-MPs Joshua Toro (Kandara), Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo), David Ngugi (North Kinangop), Wambugu Nyamu, Kabando and Githinji signed the statement.

On the other hand, MPs who have come out in support of Ruto’s 2022 bid include Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Kimani Ichungw’a (Kikuyu), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) John Kiarie (Dagorretti South), Wangui Ngirichi (Kirinyaga), Simon King’ara (Ruiru) and Gachagua.

Speaking a fortnight ago at St Joseph’s Boy High School in Githunguri when the DP presided over a funds drive in aid of the school, Ichung’wa said they will continue to support Ruto whether “some people in government liked it or not”.


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