Azimio members in Meru back independent candidate

Meru Senatorial candidate Joseph Kaberia

Meru Senatorial candidate Joseph Kaberia (R), Wiper Party Meru branch chairman David Gatobu and Wiper NEC member Fridah Gakii during a press conference in Meru town on July 14, 2022. Wiper party members endorsed Mr Kaberia who is an independent candidate.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

A split among members of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party in Meru has widened, with affiliated parties endorsing different candidates, including those vying as independents.

The rivalry between Azimio figureheads CS Peter Munya and Governor Kiraitu Murungi has been blamed for the divisions.

The differences have seen some of the leaders allied to Mr Munya endorse independent governor candidate Kawira Mwangaza, while others have stuck with governor Kiraitu.

In the Senate contest, Governor Murungi’s camp supports Jubilee candidate James Mithika, while Mr Munya’s allies are behind independent candidate Godfrey Mwiti.

On Thursday, the split intensified after Wiper party members in Meru endorsed Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia, who is vying for senator as an independent candidate.

Speaker Kaberia has also received backing from ODM party members.

Wiper Meru chairman David Gatobu said they resolved to support Mr Kaberia after internal opinion polls showed that he was far ahead of the Azimio senatorial candidate.

“As Wiper members in Meru, we are under instructions from our party leader Kalonzo Musyoka to bring in every vote. This is why we are embracing all, including independent candidates who have a huge following,” Mr Gatobu said.

Wiper National Executive Council member Fridah Gakii said the polls they were relying on showed that the Jubilee candidate had less than 10 percent of support while Mr Kaberia’s is above 40 per cent.

“Our decision to back Mr Kaberia should not cause any conflict because the intention of every party in the coalition is to bring votes for Raila Odinga. Besides Mr Kaberia rating higher than others, he is willing to work with Azimio once elected,” Ms Gakii said.

They urged Mr Mithika (Jubilee) to step down for Mr Kaberia so as to increase the chances of Azimio winning in Meru.

Speaker Kaberia said that though he is an independent candidate, he was working closely with political parties in Azimio to win support.

While Mr Munya’s allies, including East African Legislative Assembly member Mpuru Aburi, who wants to recapture the Tigania East parliamentary seat, woman representative candidate Gakii Mbui and David Karithi (Tigania West seat hopeful) have endorsed Ms Mwangaza’s bid, the CS has steered clear of naming his preferred candidate for the governor’s seat.

But Mr Munya has been clear that he does not support Governor Murungi.

“The people of Meru are wise enough to identify a gubernatorial candidate who will bring development. I do not wish to break Azimio rules by endorsing those not in the coalition,” Mr Munya said recently when he issued title deeds in Kiirua.

Governor Murungi has accused Mr Munya of failing to unite the Azimio team in Meru despite being the coalition’s Mt Kenya coordinator.

“After realising that Mr Munya was not keen on bringing us together, we asked Raila Odinga to appoint Bus party secretary-general Mugambi Imanyara as Meru County coordinator. Since then, we have seen progress in the Azimio campaigns,” Mr Murungi said recently.

Due to the widening rift among Meru leaders, the appointment of Mr Imanyara as Azimio coordinator was also contested by some candidates, saying they were not consulted.
 

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