Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has blamed Senator Mithika Linturi for the chaos that broke out during his political rally at Muringene market, Igembe Central, on Monday.
The melee was the culmination of antagonism that was brewing among three governor candidates.
While Mr Murungi is defending his seat under his Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) and supports Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga, Mr Linturi is riding on the wave of Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party in Meru.
The other contestant, Woman Rep Kawira Mwanzaza, is vying as an independent candidate. The three have been trading barbs over the past few weeks, with Mr Murungi dismissing the two as incapable of running the county.
When the chaos broke out on Monday, Mr Murungi had just started addressing the crowd and had told residents not to elect Mr Linturi.
Several youths threw stones at the governor and disrupted the meeting as politicians and residents scampered for safety. But the police intervened and restored calm, with the rally resuming after about 10 minutes.
“We cannot continue with this kind of politics and expect development and I blame Mr Lithuri for this chaos. This is retrogressive and primitive politics and I say shame on you, Linturi,” Mr Murungi said.
But Kenya Kwanza in Meru distanced the senator from the violence, saying Mr Linturi was not involved in the chaos.
“If the governor has evidence, let him produce it and record statements with the police and report to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” said Kenya Kwanza Meru campaign communications director Patrick Muriungi.
“Mr Linturi is not in the business of involving himself in electoral violence and indeed he regrets what happened at Muringene.
“Kiraitu is free to campaign anywhere in Meru just like any other candidate. Let the police deal with perpetrators of violence and Kiraitu should stop using this as a scapegoat. He knows he is losing and he is seeking sympathy votes.”
Governor Murungi later addressed another rally in Athiru Ruujine in the same constituency and asked residents to maintain peace during next week’s polls.
“In Meru we are not known to engage in violence and I appeal to residents to vote peacefully and elect leaders who will represent our interests in the next five years,” he said.