Justin Muturi

The National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi speaks during his coronation as the Mount Kenya spokesman at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga in Murang'a on May 22, 2021.

| Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Justin Muturi coronation widens rift in Mt Kenya

Four Mt Kenya governors have disowned the coronation of National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi as the region’s spokesman, escalating a power struggle that has gripped President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard.

The emergence of two rival camps, Mt Kenya West and Mt Kenya East, is shaping up in the region that is at cross roads with President Kenyatta retiring next year with no clear favorite yet to take over the mantle.

It has emerged that Mt Kenya West, which consists of mainly counties in the former Central Province and those in Rift Valley like Laikipia and Nakuru with large populations of the community are uncomfortable with Mr Muturi’s elevation so soon after Chief Justice Martha Koome.

Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui convened a meeting in Nairobi which was attended by governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) and Mwangi wa Iria (Muranga).

Officially, the county chiefs said they had gathered to discuss the welfare of Mt Kenya but it was telling they are among those who have publicly opposed Mr Muturi’s coronation.

Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru addressing journalists on May 26,2021 at Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi during a Mount Kenya West Governors presser.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Conspicuously absent from the meeting were governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) and Martin Wambora (Embu) all of whom have endorsed the coronation.

Governors Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia) and Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) were also not present.

Others who attended yesterday’s meeting were former Kiambu governor William Kabogo, former MPs Jamleck Kamau, Dennis Waweru, Peter Weru and Ndung’u Gethenji. They all come from Mt Kenya West.

Asked about the absence of their colleagues, particularly the region’s governors, Ms Waiguru only mentioned they had received apologies from Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and National Assembly deputy Majority Whip Maoka Maore.

Cultural issue 

“We met here to discuss and strategise on issues that affect the people of Mt Kenya,” Mr Kinyanjui said, adding that a follow up meeting will be held in Nyeri at a date to be announced later.

They however maintained that neither the Speaker nor the coronation had featured in their agenda of issues discussed yesterday.

“We did not come here to talk about Mr Muturi or the alleged coronation,” Mr wa Iria said in response to a question from a journalist.

“Coronation is a cultural issue.  Cultural leaders talk about cultural issues. We did not talk about the coronation because none of us here is a cultural leader. In any case, none of us attended the alleged coronation,” Mr wa Iria added.

Sources said a planned meeting in the next two weeks is to mobilise like-minded leaders to reject the Mr Muturi’s coronation.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Muturi said the leaders opposed to his coronation are entitled to freely express their opinion. “They are at liberty to hold their views. I welcome and respect them for that,” Mr Muturi said.

Mr Kinyanjui, Ms Waiguru and Mr wa Iria are on record rejecting Mr Muturi’s elevation to the region’s spokesman.

Gimmick 

“On behalf of Kikuyus we say he is not our spokesman. He is not the spokesman for Murang’a people. I have spoken to Mr Kinyanjui and he is against it. I have spoken to governor Waiguru, and she has also said no,” Mr Wa Iria said before the coronation.

In a post on Facebook, the Nakuru governor termed the coronation as a gimmick.

“We are looking for records and not a promise. We cannot take a whole community on a casino ride. Please remind us the attributes of the new coronee. Anyone who still believes in this gimmick is a poor student of history. Leaders emerge out of solving situations that affect their regions, common answer to the regional challenges,” wrote Mr Kinyanjui.

Meanwhile the council of elders is also divided on Mr Muturi's coronation as the Gíkúyú, Embu and Ameru spokesman.

The bone of contention is that Mr Muturi who is from the Embu subtribe was crowned in a shrine (Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga) that belongs to the Agikuyu tribe.

Those supporting the coronation are arguing that the shrine is not the seat of the Agikuyu God.

"It is home to our ancestral roots where Gíkúyú and Múmbi as the first couple lived and gave birth to nine daughters hence founding the Agikuyu. It is a home and not a shrine and the fact that some of the siblings in the family are opposed to their brothers bringing home a visitor should not necessarily mean we are at war," said Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi.

While the patron of the Kikuyu Council of Elders (KCE) Mr Kung’u Muigai—who is also President Kenyatta’s cousin—pushed for the coronation, the Chairman Peter Munga is opposed.

Supremacy battles 

The divisions mirror the infighting that has erupted in the region fuelled by 2022 succession politics.

In Nakuru, Mr Kinyanjui is battling it out with Senator Susan Kihika for the county’s top job in next year’s elections.

Mr Murungi who supports Muturi’s coronation is battling it out for Meru County’s top post with Mr Munya who is opposed.

In Kirinyaga, Ms Waiguru is being challenged by her deputy Peter Ndambiri and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua for the voice of the county.

And in Nyeri, Nyeri town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua are in rival camps.

In Murang'a Mr Mwangi wa Iria and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth are keen on the region’s supremacy.

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro, his predecessor Mr Kabogo and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria are in supremacy battles in the county.

Mr Kimemia is fending off competition from Woman Rep Faith Gitau in Nyandarua.

Mr Muriithi and former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri are also locked in supremacy battles in Laikipia.

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