Lawyers, politicians battle for Meru Speaker post

Meru assembly session

A past session of Meru County Assembly. More than 15 people have expressed interest in the position of Meru Speaker. 

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

The Meru County Assembly Speaker position has attracted 14 contestants, including lawyers and politicians.

The assembly comprises 45 elected MCAs and is expected to get another 23 nominated members. 

Attention has now shifted to the assembly, where seven lawyers and seven politicians are wooing newly elected MCAs to pick them as Speaker.

Mr Joseph Kaberia, a lawyer, who was Speaker for 10 years, wants to recapture the seat.

Mr Kaberia contested the Senate seat on August 9 as an independent candidate but lost.

NOPEU party

He faces competition from six other lawyers – Marius Maranya, Mugambi Laichena, David Gikunda, Gatobu M'Inoti, Luke Michubu and Rodgers Ruthugua.

The politicians eyeing the post include Gakii Mbui, who ran for woman representative this year but lost, Rodgers Kipembe, the secretary-general of the NOPEU party, Elias Murega, former Municipality MCA, and Adamson Muriki, former Athiru Gaiti MCA.

Others are Ayub Bundi, a former Abothuguchi Central MCA, James Mithika and Salesio Thuranira, both of whom vied for senator on August 9 election but lost, and David Baariu, a director at the New KCC. 

Mr Maranya, a lawyer based in Meru town who previously worked as a legal officer in the county assembly, said: "I am a front-runner in this contest. I am confident that the MCAs will elect me to the position of Speaker."

Mr Michubu, who practises law in Maua town, said regional balance will play a major role in who is elected Speaker.

Athwana MCA-elect Jim Muchui said he would consider a Speaker candidate who can balance the independence of the assembly and with forging good relations with other leaders.

Political consensus

Akithii MCA-elect Mwenda Ithili said: “I will consider a candidate who will protect the legislature from control by the executive and fair in handling members’ welfare.”

There is political consensus that the top county seats of governor, woman representative, senator and Speaker be well distributed among the regions of Meru County.

Some of the contestants are also banking on various political formations in the county to boost their chances of victory.

Parties allied to the Azimio coalition have a majority of MCAs, 25, while Kenya Kwanza has 14 and there are five independent members. The Nyaki West ward election was suspended and will be held on August 29.

But each Speaker candidate will have to convince the majority of MCAs that they are the best for the post.

According to county assembly procedures, the position of Speaker is declared vacant once the governor calls the first sitting of the assembly.

Interested candidates are required to submit nomination papers to the assembly clerk 48 hours before the first sitting.

The election and swearing-in of the Speaker takes place after the new MCAs have taken their oath of office.