Munya-Kiraitu wars intensify as Azimio governor campaigns for UDA candidate

Agriculture CS Peter Munya (left) and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya (left) and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Governor Kiraitu Murungi has stirred up the political scene in Meru after vowing to campaign against East African Legislative Assembly member Mpuru Aburi, as sibling rivalry in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition camp intensified.

The rivalry in Meru is unique as the protagonists are not contesting the same seat on different parties in Azimio but because of a supremacy battle between Mr Murungi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

The new development has seen Mr Murungi’s men warn Mr Munya that the Cabinet post he was promised was not guaranteed, signalling that the raging battle between the duo 40 days before the August 9 General Election has reached fever pitch.

Mr Aburi is seeking to recapture the Tigania East parliamentary seat he lost to MP Gichunge Kabeabea in 2017. While the incumbent is defending his position under Deputy President William Ruto's United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party, Mr Aburi is running on the ticket of his National Ordinary People’s Empowerment Union.

Mr Murungi has accused Mr Aburi of supporting his rival, Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza (independent), instead of backing him in the Azimio coalition, whose presidential candidate is Raila Odinga. Also contesting the governor’s seat is Senator Mithika Linturi (UDA).

Campaigning in Kariene, Imenti Central, last week in the presence of Mr Munya, Mr Aburi asked residents to vote for Ms Mwangaza, a statement that rattled Mr Murungi, who wondered why Mr Aburi was not campaigning for him as the two are both in Azimio.

Local seats

Mr Munya also told residents there was no competition at the presidential level, adding: “[For] the governor and other local seats, we will decide who to vote for.”

On Wednesday, the governor hit back: “It is now each politician for himself and Raila for us all. Mpuru is campaigning for Kawira and we all know he is Mr Munya's loudspeaker, such that what the CS cannot say openly is said by Mpuru.

“I have also decided to support Kabeabea and will make sure Mpuru is nowhere on the face of Meru politics after August 9.”

The declaration was received with shock and disbelief, with pundits saying it might affect the performance of the Azimio coalition in a region where UDA has a stranglehold.

But Mr Mugambi Imanyara, the Azimio coalition county coordinator and Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) secretary-general, said Mr Murungi “must survive to fight another day”, and maintained that Mr Odinga's votes would not be affected.

“We have agreed that the presidential vote will be cast into Raila's basket and we are all campaigning for him. But at the governor level, each candidate has to fight their own battle,” Mr Imanyara said.

“If they are not with us, we will fight them to the end and we have decided to use their enemy. In a battle, your enemy's enemy is your best friend.”

He added: “It is foolhardy on Mr Munya's part to refuse to support Mr Murungi while he allows his close ally to campaign for the governor's opponent in his meetings yet he expects Mr Odinga to win so that he retains his Cabinet post.

“We cannot be fooled, so sisi pia tumesema wacha kiumane (we have also said let the rubber meet the road).”

He said Mr Munya should not expect to automatically retain the Agriculture CS post Mr Odinga has promised him.

Overseeing five ministries

The CS has said several times that he will be number three in the pecking order of Mr Odinga's government, overseeing five ministries.

“He should know that a declaration is not an appointment, because what will count is the work one has done. In the event Mr Murungi loses the governor post and Mr Odinga wins, who do you think will take the post Munya brags is his to keep? Mr Murungi of course,” Mr Imanyara said.

Addressing journalists at Muthara market, Mr Munya's backyard, on Tuesday, Mr Aburi claimed Mr Murungi had drawn a list of his preferred individuals he would present to Mr Odinga for appointment in the Azimio government, accusing him of excluding Mr Munya.

Mr Imanyara said there was nothing wrong with that, adding that if Mr Odinga wins, he would be the one to decide who to appoint.

“The governor has no apologies to make over that. Let Mr Munya also come up with his list, we work hard to secure victory and they will meet in Mr Odinga's bedroom after the polls," he said.

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