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Three meetings held in Mount Kenya to lay strategy for the presidency

POLITICS
By Standard Team | June 13th 2021
A section of Mt Kenya leaders at Lusoi Resorts in Nyeri, during their Nyeri 1 leaders meeting ahead of next year's General Election. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Leaders from Mt Kenya including six governors, a Cabinet Secretary and a host of MPs have given the clearest indication yet that the region is likely to field a presidential candidate in next year’s polls.

The coming together of 1,000-odd delegates in Nyeri signalled the region’s determination to have a say in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession race which is already gathering steam.

And in other two venues, Governor Kiraitu Murungi and the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi were separately drumming up support for Mt Kenya East voters eyeing a bigger stake in the regional politics next year.

In what is seen as a fresh attempt to stem the growing influence of Deputy President William Ruto in the region, the leaders who converged in Nyeri, said they would not play second fiddle but instead go for the ultimate prize.

It was sort of a reconciliation meeting with leaders toning down attacks on the recent coronation of Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi as the spokesman of Mt Kenya region, saying the issue should not create a wedge in the region.

One voice

At the meeting were governors Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) and Lee Kinyanjui of Nakuru.

A surprise attendant was Embu’s Martin Wambora who has been supporting Muturi.

Others were Agriculture CS Peter Munya who had earlier attended the Party of National Unity (PNU) National Executive Committee meeting with Ndiritu Muriithi and former Kiambu governor William Kabogo at a resort near Wiyumiririe market.

Governor Kinyanjui, who is the convenor of the group, said there was need for the region to speak in one voice for its message to be heard.

“The region will only attract ridicule if it remains disunited. We must put the interest of the region first and embrace a proactive approach,” he said, adding there would be follow-up meetings.

Justin Muturi, meeting with Knut and Kuppet leaders from Mt Kenya East at his Kanyuambora home in Mbeere South Subcounty. Saturday, June 12, 2021 [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

Munya said the leaders will crisscross the region to unite the people and leaders, and that when the time comes they will meet at the Sagana State Lodge to decide who will be the candidate.

The leaders said they must approach the next General Election as one team.

They have proposed regional meetings to campaign for the elusive regional unity and a Sagana Four session by President Kenyatta for the outgoing leader’s blessing to the proposed successor.

Formidable team

The meeting was conciliatory, with wa Iria underlining that the West should not be seen to be fighting Mt Kenya East.

“The mountain is intact. The only small issue which was there was not about Mt Kenya East or Mt Kenya West but because of respect for the sanctity of Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine and that has been sorted out.

“Going forward, we shall include our brothers and sisters who are not here so that we approach next year as one strong formidable team,” wa Iria said.

The governor has been most vocal opponent over the anointing of Muturi, but yesterday he appeared to walk back his comments.

“If we don’t take care of our numbers, they will be our curse, a Kikuyu has always shone at the ballot.

“This is not the best time to have a gap we must rise up to the occasion,” wa Iria said.

Kimemia, the chair of Central Region Economic Block, weighed in: “Let us unite against our opponents. We are being told that this is not our time but we cant bargain at number two.

“Let us identify a committee of like minded people who can adequately secure our interests.”

The governor accused a clique that he claimed is in an intensive campaign to insult and hold the President Kenyatta in contempt, saying Mt Kenya should defend the outgoing leader.

“Let the infighting stop and unite against such a team. We are being told that this is not our time we can’t bargain while as number two.

“It is us who will determine the next president. Let us have a committee to identify like-minded people who will secure our interests,” KImemia said., adding that: “We shall not bargain as number two but as number one. Let candidates declare their presidential bid and then we shall shortlist and come up with a candidate.”

Waiguru said Uhuru remained remained the spokesman of the region.

“We want to restore river back to its course, Kenyatta remains our spokesman but what we are doing is seeking representatives of the future government, while supporting the president of the day,” she said.

And Muturi, speaking when he met teachers’ union leaders from Mt Kenya East at his home in Kanyuambora, Mbeere North in Embu, urged the region to elect people with best policies.

As the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) leaders from Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi pledged to back him, he called out his Mt Kenya West counterparts for insincerity. 

“They invited me but I told them of my earlier commitments. They even insisted I attend for ten minutes for a group picture of unity but but I still declined.

“I cannot be trapped as they would use the photo against me,” Muturi said.

Over in Meru at his home near Nkubu, South Imenti, Governor Kiraitu said it was time for Mt Kenya East to produce a presidential candidate.

“Experience is the total number of mistakes one has made in his life.

“Having supported Kibaki for 10 years and Uhuru for 10 years, we do not expect to hear of another candidate from that side,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by Meru senator Mithika Linturi, who has openly differed with Kiraitu.

Others were National Assembly Deputy Chief Whip Maoka Maore (Igembe North), Kubai Kiringo (Igembe Central) and John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South) and all the area MCAs and opinion leaders numbering about 300.

Also present were former MPs Raphael Muriungi, Joseph M’Eruaki and aspirants Elizabeth Kailemia, Mithika Mzalendo, James Mithika and Dan Kiili.

[Reports by Wainaina Ndung’u, Muriithi Mugo, Ndung’u Gachane and Gerald Mutethia]

 

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