Leaders of seven Mt Kenya parties to meet today for 2022 unity talks
By Jacob Ngetich
| August 17th 2021
Seven party leaders from Mount Kenya meet today in Thika, Kiambu County, for talks aimed at forming a coalition ahead of the 2022 General Election.
This comes a week after The Service Party of Kenya (TSP) leader Mwangi Kiunjuri, Chama Cha Kazi's Moses Kuria (Gatundu South MP) and Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua met for unity talks.
Others party leaders expected to join the trio are former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti (Rebuild and Restore Party), Esau Kioni of the Democratic Party (DP), Mpuru Apuri (National Ordinary People Empowerment Union, NOPEU) and Thuo Mathenge (The New Democrats).
Mount Kenya has been restless over its future as President Uhuru Kenyatta's term comes to an end in August next year.
Having not identified a strong political figure to take over as the region's supremo, leaders are jostling to be Mt Kenya spokesperson.
President Kenyatta was endorsed by the community during a meeting dubbed Limuru Two and Karua, Kuria and Kiunjuri resolved to hold Limuru Three meeting where politicians, church leaders, elders and opinion shapers from Mt Kenya will chart out the way forward.
Yesterday, the Gatundu South MP said that more parties from the region will join the talks.
"We are meeting to discuss the future of our region. We saw Uhuru meet a group of politicians in Mombasa recently and none of them was from our region; we must organise ourselves, we want to chart a course for our people," said Kuria.
Kiunjuri, Kuria and Karua initiated reconciliation talks of Mt Kenya leaders to avert division and split of votes.
“We have given ourselves three months to consolidate the Mt Kenya vote into one basket before we agree and sit at a roundtable with other leaders from different regions whom we share a common goal and manifesto,” said the Narc Kenya leader.
During the meeting on Thursday last week, the three leaders resolved to whip other Mt Kenya leaders into one political caucus ahead of the elections.
The Kiunjuri, Kuria and Karua talks have received mixed reactions from leaders in the voter-rich region that is likely to reach six million registered voters once the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) begins mass registration.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Kieni MP Kanini Kega have welcomed the talks.
"They have come to a realisation of our unity call; we said it in Nyeri and Meru when we converged there as leaders from the region. We hope that in future we will converge to speak in one voice as a region in the interest of our people and economy,” said Ms Waiguru.
Mr Kega welcomed plans to unite Mt Kenya leaders. “We are now moving in the right direction. Unity is key; with such talks we can even field a presidential candidate next year.”
Already, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, businessman Jimi Wanjigi and Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria have thrown their hats in the ring for a presidential run.
Kiunjuri said the matter of who becomes their preferred candidate is not a priority at the moment.
“Our immediate priority is the unity of the region; that is our focus for now. Once we are united, we can then talk to others as a unit," he said.
The former Cabinet secretary said it was inevitable that Mt Kenya region votes would be split among the various presidential candidates.
Kiunjuri, who was speaking on a vernacular TV station on Sunday night, said Ruto has a headstart in wooing Mt Kenya voters as he started his campaign early.
“Opposition leaders such as ODM leader Raila Odinga, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper Democratic Party's Kalonzo Musyoka have just started making political inroads in Central but DP Ruto has been at it longer and ahead of them,” he said.
He said the main conversation now should be what happens next because some voters have already made up their minds on who to vote for come 2022.
“The reality is that a high percentage of Mt Kenya votes will be split among candidates, and now it is going to be up to the aspirants to pick running mates that will secure the region's support,” he said.
He said presidential aspirants should be willing to prioritise the region's agenda in their manifestos.
“Our focus should be on issues, for instance addressing demands of farmers' needs, securing a conducive business environment and the youth agenda for the region,” he said.
He said Mt Kenya is a swing vote that will determine who wins the presidency.
“While Mt Kenya has been divided, the truth is the region is the swing vote and that is why we must decide what we need, in the next presidency,” he said.
Additional reporting by Lydiah Nyawira
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