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Rebirth of PNU raises stakes in Mt Kenya amid realignments

By Wainana Ndung'u | August 7th 2016 at 02:58:18 GMT +0300

Meru Governor Peter Munya (centre) with PNU Secretary General John Anunda (right) and Water County Executive Mary Mwiti at Mutuati Health Centre in Meru last week. PNU has said it will not be dissolving to join the new Jubilee Party. (PHOTO: PETER MUTHOMI/ STANDARD)

With the folding up of parties under the Jubilee coalition now a foregone conclusion, friendlier outfits that have resisted the move are positioning themselves for an anticipated fallout.

Already, the Party of National Unity (PNU) is on a roll in Mt Kenya region and is presenting itself as an alternative home for disgruntled members of the Jubilee house.

PNU, which has been in hibernation since 2013 when it did not get a single MP to Parliament despite being the party of the incumbent, has received fresh impetus after Meru Governor Peter Munya embraced it as he readies himself for the 2017 battle.

Munya’s entry into PNU and the party’s official’s declaration that it would not be swallowed by the yet to be unveiled Jubilee Party has thrust it into the limelight. But even before the ink on the deal between the Meru governor and the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) dries up, a senior PNU official has told Munya he is not welcome.

Stumbling block

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PNU interim chairman John Kamama has dismissed Munya’s bid to take over the party leadership, saying the move was done without prior consultation. Speaking after presiding over a South Rift party delegates' meeting in Nakuru, Mr Kamama dismissed the NEC meeting called on August 19 by Secretary General John Okemwa Anunda, saying he was not consulted.

“The PNU constitution is clear on the procedure to call for a national executive council meeting, the chairman of the party must be consulted,” he said.

He said members still recognise retired President Mwai Kibaki their party leader. He also dismissed an announcement by the Meru Governor that he will seek the party leaders’ position saying Munya is not a PNU member.

“One cannot come from the bush and claim he wants to be endorsed as PNU party leader. Munya must first get a party leadership position from the grassroots before thinking of becoming the party leader,” Kamama said.

But Munya accused Kamama of being used to sabotage his bid to take over the party and use it as his re-election vehicle. “There are people like Kamama who want to rock the boat. He is being used but they won’t succeed,” the governor said.

He said the party’s NEC is mandated to instruct the secretary general to call a national delegates conference. The Council of Governors (CoG) chairman said he had been invited by many parties to join them, but had settled on PNU because of its impressive economic development under Mr Kibaki.

“I had been asked by many parties (to join them), including DP and Daima but I settled on PNU. It is our election vehicle in 2017 as we head to Canaan in 2022,” Munya said.

Already, several county executives in the Meru County Government have expressed their desire to join PNU and use it to run for elective positions in next year’s poll.

Speaking at a function attended by the governor at Ruiga in Central Imenti this week, County Secretary Julius Kimathi, County Assembly Majority Leader Ayub Bundi and Water CEC Mary Mwiti said they were fully behind Munya’s new found political direction.

The governor told the gathering he will seek to defend his seat on a PNU ticket next year. “I think I will be made the party leader, and that is where Bundi and I are headed,” Munya said.

Although Bundi has in the past denied that he is eyeing a county seat, he is said to be the man Munya considers a viable running mate. Deputy Governor Raphael Muriungi has expressed desire to reclaim the Igembe South Seat he lost in 2002 to Mithika Linturi.

Hard task

Reliable sources indicate that Muriungi has since picked a certificate from a political outfit that has declined to dissolve into the Jubilee Party and is set to launch his attempt for a parliamentary comeback.

Kimathi has announced that he is interested in the Central Imenti parliamentary seat currently held by Mwiti Irea. Ms Mwiti said she will seek the PNU ticket as she lodges campaigns to oust Woman Representative Florence Kajuju.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries CEC Jenaro Guantai is eyeing the South Imenti parliamentary seat while his Co-operatives, Trade and Tourism counterpart Ntoitha Mithiaru has announced he will try to recapture the Igembe North seat.

Seen as completing Munya’s team for parliamentary seats candidates are Josephat Gichunge alias Kabeabea who has a noticeable presence in Tigania East against incumbent Mpuru Aburi. Tigania West MP David Kareithi has in the last one year aligned himself to Munya.

In Imenti North, the governor’s key allies said he could always count on former MP Silas Muriuki for the PNU ticket. Muriuki remains a key ally of the governor.

In Buuri, Munya is said to be toying with the idea of fielding Jacob Kirera, his Finance CEC. The incumbent Gatobu Kinoti, an independent MP, has not aligned himself on the Munya or Kiraitu camps.

Munya’s camp also appears to have picked Mwiti Kathendu as a possible senatorial aspirant.

But in a pointer that PNU may still have hard task fielding candidates for every seat in Meru, several MCAs who are allies of Munya, said they will seek the Jubilee Party’s ticket to defend their seats.

Munya has the support of 47 of the 69 MCAs in Meru but many are said to be avoiding antogonising him for the sake of development in their areas.

2017 general election Party of National Unity (PNU) Jubilee Party
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