A dinner hosted by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi has sparked fresh controversy within the Jubilee Party (JP).
Though private, the dinner at senator’s Kigiine residence has drawn the ire of a section of politicians who claim Kiraitu and his allies — Mithika Linturi and Florence Kajuju — are favouring their competitors.
The trio is under close scrutiny by a section of sitting lawmakers and JP aspirants, who fear it (the trio) has a list of preferred candidates to fly JP’s flag in next year’s elections.
Kiraitu, the party’s appointed coordinator of the presidential campaign team in the Eastern region, has expressed interest in unseating Governor Peter Munya. Linturi, the Igembe South MP, is eyeing the senator’s seat while Kajuju, the current Woman Representative, wants to retain her seat.
The dinner was attended by all elected MPs except Tigania West’s David Kariithi and Buuri’s Kinoti Gatobu. Also present were at least 25 Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) from Meru. Sources said Kinoti had been invited but he was held up elsewhere.
Kariithi has accused Kiraitu of personalising JP by hosting a meeting to discuss party matters at his residence and leaving out a section of leaders.
“He did not invite me to his home. It is disappointing that he has decided to lock us out,” a bitter Kariithi said.
But Kiraitu dismissed the accusation, saying it was his prerogative to invite whoever he pleases to his house.
“When you host a dinner in your house, you choose whom to invite,” he said.
Kariithi, who is opposed to Kiraitu’s governor’s bid but has stuck with JP, said many Jubilee aspirants are unhappy with the senator’s preference for certain candidates.
“It is not fair for Kiraitu, Linturu and Kajuju to exclude us from Jubilee matters. If this continues we are going to have a Jubilee A and Jubilee B in Meru,” he warned.
Already, aspirants previously allied to JP have jumped ship to Munya’s PNU.
They include Joseph Mithika “Mzalendo” Mwenda, who is eyeing the Igembe South seat and lawyers GK Meenye and Mugambi Imanyara, both of who are interested in the senatorial seat.
Gideon ‘GG’ Thuranira, another senatorial candidate who Kiraitu has persistently implored to step down for Linturi, has vowed to run as an independent candidate.
But Kiraitu has dismissed the defections to PNU, saying Jubilee had not lost any strong aspirant.
“Those that claim they have bolted were never part of us,” said Kiraitu.
The dinner, as well as the fall-out in its wake, comes at a time Governor Munya is on a charm-offensive to popularise the Party of National Unity (PNU) in the region.
Last weekend, Munya held roadshows across the county to promote his new political outfit.
Imenti North’s Rahim Dawood and and his South Imenti counterpart Kathuri Murungi told The Standard on Sunday the dinner was a confirmation that incumbents were better placed to lead efforts to popularise JP in the region.
“It also sends a message that all those line-ups you hear associated with Kiraitu, Linturi and Kajuju are a ruse and it is the incumbents who really have a head start,” said Rahim said.
Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi was blunt, saying the meeting was for elected leaders only and Kariithi was deliberately left out.
“He is not in our camp. He is supporting Munya and he could not have attended the meeting to discuss how to rally the masses to vote to send Munya home,” he said.