Kiraitu faces ouster as Bus Party leader

Former Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.
Former Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.
Photo credit: File| Nation

Political infighting within the Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) has intensified after secretary-general Mugambi Imanyara vowed to seek the ouster of former Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi as party leader.

Mr Imanyara, who is also fighting his removal by the party's disciplinary committee, said on Saturday, June 22, that he would go to court to challenge Mr Murungi's legality as party leader for holding two public offices.

Mr Murungi is a member of the Kenya Law Reform Commission and chairman of the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK).

Speaking to journalists in Meru town, Mr Imanyara said his party leader must choose between serving the political party and serving as a public officer.

"The party constitution and the laws of Kenya are very clear that anyone who is appointed to public office must resign from the leadership of the political party. However, Kiraitu Murungi gazetted himself as DEP leader in contravention of the law. I will sue him so that he returns the money he has illegally earned," said Mr Imanyara.

But Mr Murungi dismissed Mr Imanyara as "a busybody seeking publicity through vexatious litigation".

"Has he forgotten that he was secretary general of the party while serving as chairman of the Kenya Trade Network Agency (Kentrade)?" Mr Murungi asked.

Mr Imanyara served as Kentrade chairman between October 2021 and May 2023, when President William Ruto replaced him with former Taita Taveta MP Basil Criticos.

DEP Meru branch secretary Alhaji Mwendia said, "If Mr Imanyara means what he says, he should have challenged the gazette notice published last month naming Mr Murungi as the party leader."

Mr Imanyara further accused Mr Murungi of failing to relinquish political leadership despite announcing his retirement from politics.

"We want the party to hold grassroots elections so that members can elect the officials they want. We cannot have a few leaders imposing officials on us," he said.

But Mr Mwendia maintained that Imanyara was a man under siege and would be the first to be removed from the position of secretary-general.

"The disciplinary committee has made its decision and the courts are about to make a decision. His days in the Bus Party are numbered," said Mwendia.
The fallout within the Bus Party began in the middle of last year when Mr Imanyara wrote to the Meru Assembly Speaker about changes in the leadership of the minority party.
Mr Imanyara had removed the Minority Party whip, Dennis Kiogora, for indiscipline, a directive that was opposed by other officials.

The Bus party's national executive committee later suspended Mr Imanyara as secretary general pending a disciplinary hearing.

Mr Imanyara petitioned the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal, which reinstated him pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

The fallout intensified in September last year after Mr Imanyara disagreed with his colleagues on the second attempt to impeach Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza.

This led to the emergence of two factions of party leaders in Meru County, one aligned to Mr Murungi and the other to Mr Imanyara.

"We started this party with Kiraitu Murungi and Lenny Kivuti. We shared the top three positions in the party as bonafide party founders. As such, we have equal rights and no one can oust me. If I am to leave the Bus Party, we will have to dissolve it and everyone will take their share," Mr Imanyara said last year.

Recently, Mr Murungi maintained that he would remain the Bus Party leader and focus on national politics ahead of the 2027 elections.