Azimio la Umoja coalition leaders in Meru have moved to avert a falling-out that had threatened to paralyse their campaigns in the region.
The rivalry and supremacy battles between Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya came to the fore after a recent visit by Martha Karua, the running mate of Azimo One Kenya presidential flag-bearer Raila Odinga, with politicians allied to the governor accusing Mr Munya of side-lining them.
Mr Munya does not see eye to eye with Igembe North MP Maore Maoka, who is also an Azimio coalition council official.
Earlier, Mr Maoka accused Mr Munya of not involving other Azimio leaders in Meru in the campaigns, leading to stiff opposition from supporters of DP William Ruto in various stops including Timau, Kiirua, Kianjai, Kangeta and Maua towns.
“UDA has made substantial inroads in Meru and you cannot behave with arrogance and expect results. It needs proper organisation and planning otherwise we will harvest what we sow,” Mr Maoka said.
Call for a truce
But in a meeting organised by a movement called Meru Young Turks for Azimio, leaders allied to Mr Munya and to Mr Murungi called for a truce ahead of the start of official campaigns.
The movement warned that Azimio infighting would give their opponents the upper hand in the battle for more than 800,000 votes in Meru.
Azimio is banking on several top politicians and affiliate party officials, including Jubilee deputy party leader Kinoti Gatobu, to turn the tide.
Speaking at the meeting in Kiirua, Governor Murungi said because he is the only Meru governor candidate in the Azimio coalition, all parties in the camp should back him.
"We have had immense benefits from being in the government in the last 20 years. We are supporting Azimio because we want to remain in government going forward. I support Mr Odinga because he has an agenda that will empower devolution," Mr Murungi said.
He warned leaders against pulling in different directions.
Move as a team
“We will weaken our efforts in Azimio. We want Meru leaders to move as a team like we did when we backed the Mwai Kibaki government in 2002," he said.
Governor Murungi urged CS Munya to back his bid, saying they are in the same camp.
"I have nothing against CS Munya, since we are not in competition. I have been praying for him to secure a position in the national platform but he is yet to endorse me here in Meru," the governor said.
Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu said the sibling rivalry within Azimio needed to end.
"We learnt of Martha Karua's recent visit very late. We need to end petty competition within the coalition so as to have a successful campaign. We will continue working closely with CS Munya in delivering a win for Azimio," Mr Ntuchiu said.
Better coordination needed
Mr Maore said better coordination in Azimio is needed in order to undo DP Ruto's support in the region.
"Anyone expecting anything at the top in the Azimio government must ensure there is proper coordination in the campaigns. We must stop squabbles within Azimio and focus on ensuring Raila Odinga wins this election," Mr Maore said.
Njuri Ncheke secretary-general Josphat Murangiri said elders have organised a unity meeting to resolve the differences between Mr Munya and Mr Murungi.
He said elders and church leaders would ensure the two leaders have a handshake for political unity.
"Mr Munya and Mr Murungi are the face of the Meru community. It is their unity that will enable us to be in the next government. This is why we are praying that they unite," Mr Murangiri said.
Mr Mithika Mwenda, a Jubilee aspirant for the Igembe South parliamentary seat, called for a structured campaign to outsmart their opponents.
"We must work closely with all Azimio aspirants across the county because our opponents are waiting for us to fight among ourselves. If we continue with infighting, we will be beaten," Mr Mwenda said.