Gloves off: Kiraitu, Linturi to face off in first Meru debate

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi (left) and Governor Kiraitu Murungi. Political temperatures in Meru County have risen in the last one month leading to what is now seen as cracks in the alliance between the two. PHOTOS | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Aspirants eyeing the Meru County governor’s seat will face off on Monday evening in a debate to be streamed live by all vernacular radio stations in the region.

The debate is expected to feature incumbent Governor Kiraitu Murungi and his rivals Senator Mithika Linturi and Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza.

It is the inaugural debate sponsored by the Upper Eastern Media Managers Association (UEMMA), Kenya Methodist University and the Media Council of Kenya’s Technical Working Group on debates involving governor, senator and women representative candidates.

The Technical Working Group, established in April and chaired by journalist Sammy Muraya, will coordinate local media outlets to conduct the debates.

UEMMA chairman David Mzungu said the debate is a major event that brings together about 15 local radio and TV stations.

“We have so far received confirmation from Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Senator Mithika Linturi. We hope the debate will help the electorate make an informed choice ahead of the General Election,” Mr Mzungu said,

Speaking to the Nation earlier, Ms Mwangaza, who is eyeing the governorship as an independent candidate, said she would not take part in the debate.

The debate is expected to delve into Governor Murungi’s track record, besides giving a chance to the contestants to lay out their agenda for Meru.

Governor Kiraitu has repeatedly defended his development record in the last five years, citing the sinking of 200 boreholes in water-scarce areas, establishing the Meru Youth Service, allocating more than Sh3 billion to ward development among his achievements.

He wants to be re-elected to focus on developing value addition in the agriculture sector, pledging Sh100 million for macadamia, bananas and potato processing.

But Mr Linturi has accused Mr Murungi’s administration of frustrating local contractors through ‘capital flight’ and running down the health sector.

For her part, Ms Mwangaza has pledged to, among others, devolve more funds, fight corruption, introduce free healthcare, establish food stores and cottage industries in every sub-county, provide water to every home and construct houses for the poor.