Kiraitu Murungi: Mt Kenya unlikely to produce next president

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi during the launch of his book titled, Beyond Politics at Serena Hotel on Monday, July 12 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has indicated that it is highly unlikely for Mt Kenya to retain the presidency but rallied the region to back National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi for the top seat.

Muturi has declared interest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in what has triggered a double-pronged succession power struggle both in the region and at the national scene.

Yesterday during the launch of his book: Beyond Politic; a conversation with Kiraitu Murungi, the political division pitting Mt Kenya West and East regions played out.

Governor Kiraitu described Muturi as a symbol of unity for the entire Gikuyu Embu Meru Association (GEMA) and asked leaders from the populous region to back his ambition for the top seat.

In excerpts from his new book, Kiraitu, however, said that despite the country’s politics being organized around ethnic blocs, the next president was likely to come outside of the region.

 “There is a likelihood that the next president will come from outside the GEMA community. Kenyan politics has been historically organized on regional planks. This is not likely to change soon,” said Kiraitu in the book.

But while speaking yesterday in Nairobi during the launch, the first-term governor said that the region has done its mathematics and has settled on Muturi.

“We have done our mathematics and we are supporting you as symbol of unity for the region. We think you can manage our divisions. You are above TangaTanga; you are above kieleweke politics,” said the county boss.

“Bring us together as we look at the future. We believe that whatever formation or government, Mt Kenya has to be in it,” he added.

He said that the region has a big sway on the political path the country will take owing to its huge voting power.

“We are not afraid to claim our right because we will be part of the system that will be in place. We have appointed you to negotiate on our behalf,” he said.

Uhuru’s exit next year has opened the Mt Kenya region as a possible battlefield that will see sons and daughters of Mumbi size themselves up for relevance, political survival or supremacy.

A section of influential leaders from Murang’a, Kiambu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua and Laikipia counties have publicly opposed the coronation of Muturi, which happened in quick succession last months.

First he was coronation in Embu as the Mt Kenya East spokesperson, then as spokesperson of the entire region held at the "Mukurwe wa nyagathanga' shrink in Muranga county despite opposition from some leaders.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia – who attended the event – said that he was not opposed to Muturi’s ambition.

He, however, questioned him for not involving all leaders from the region in his quest to be their spokesperson.

Kimemia also appealed to the political class to rally the region to vote as a bloc instead of splitting it into East and West.

“I have not commented on your coronation but I have no problem because everybody can become what they want to be,” said Kimemia.

“Let's keep our votes as a unit; this issue of Mt Kenya West and Mt Kenya East will not help us. Let us remain as block and we will vote in one way or the other and remain in government come next year,” he added.

Former powerful Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura also appealed for unity for the region ahead of Uhuru’s succession.

He said that political leaders should embrace competition and allow those who win to lead without antagonizing voters.

“Competition is good; it is the best thing one can have for a country. That is the future of the country, any politician who fights because they have lost; that is not the best way. I am saying this because I have swerved at the center and I know what works and what does not work,” said Muthaura.

Muturi said that he believes he can do more not just for the GEMA community but for the country as its top leader.

“It is about time we begun a conversation why we don't care whom we put in public office. I am talking about the need for integrity and discipline that must go with leadership at national and county government,” said Muturi.

He said that it was ironical that voters freely pick individuals with questionable character to public offices only to turn and complain when they are already in office.

“We must have policies that are implementable by people who are ready to be accountable. My approach is accountability and it is on this basis that I declare my interest to run for the presidential race,” he said.  

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