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Leaders in Central jostle to succeed Uhuru as kingpin

By Ndungu Gachane | Feb 22nd 2021 | 3 min read

Murangá Governor Mwangi Wa Iria .This was on 19th September 2019. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

As the clock ticks towards next year’s elections, Mt Kenya region is contemplating life after Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency.

Although Uhuru has not hidden his desire to continue championing the region’s interests after retirement, senior politicians from the vote-rich area have left nothing to chance as they position themselves to inherit the mantle.

The president is campaigning for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which he says is the best bet in ensuring that the region’s aspirations are taken care of.

Unlike his predecessor Mwai Kibaki who took a back seat as the battle to succeed him unravelled, Uhuru and a number of his close associates have been burning the midnight oil to ensure that his succession plans fall into place.

Watching keenly are senior politicians who are salivating at the prospects of being the region’s kingpin.

Those lining up to take over from Uhuru include Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, his predecessor Mwangi Kiunjuri, former Kiambu governor William Kabogo and Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria.

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture,Livestock,Fisheries & Cooperatives Hon. Peter Munya during a press briefing in November 2020. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The politicians have heightened their activities in the region, with political pundits pointing out that they may be preparing to position themselves for the bigger role.

Like wa Iria, Kiunjuri has registered a political party - The Service Party of Kenya - which he hopes to use as a bargaining chip in the formation of the next government.

With Mt Kenya being one of the biggest voting blocs in Kenya, Kiunjuri told ODM leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to openly demonstrate how the region will benefit from their administrations.

“These two aspiring leaders must tell us what they have in store for us for supporting their presidential bid in 2022 and because our contribution is significant, what will be our share,” he said.

Earlier this month, Kiunjuri met with Narc Kenya Party leader Martha Karua, but he did not divulge details of the meeting, only saying “we met...and discussed a wide rage of issues concerning Mt Kenya region”.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth has also started visiting various churches in Mt Kenya in what is seen as a plot to trace his roots after going against the region’s preferred candidate in 2013, and failing to clinch the Nairobi gubernatorial seat in 2017.

He has also met with the Kikuyu Council of Elders, opinion leaders and some members of Parliament from his home county Murang’a.

Although he has not made his plans for 2022 public, elected leaders from Murang’a have fronted him as President Kenyatta’s best successor owing to his excellent performance when he was Gatanga MP, and in his different capacities in government.

MPs Nduati Ngugi (Gatanga) and Peter Kimari (Mathioya) say Kenneth’s experience in politics and leadership skills show his integrity.

“Kenneth was prudent in management of public resources and he has never been associated with any corruption scandal. He does not also have a tribal tag and this works for him,” Nduati said.

Kenneth has been quoted saying that despite Mt Kenya producing three presidents, nothing stops the region from producing another.

Munya, on the other hand, is featuring as a possible regional kingpin after Uhuru by virtue of his experience in politics and governance.

Although he has a prime position in Uhuru’s government, Munya did not fold his political party PNU when other parties dissolved to join Jubilee.

And his agricultural docket gives him a platform to interact with coffee, tea and milk farmers as he puts in place regulations that are aimed at stabilising the prices for the agricultural produce.

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