Rifts emerge as search for Mt Kenya region kingpin hots up

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.  PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The leaders are not amused that a group of politicians have been supporting Mr Kenneth to take the mantle of central Kenya as the region’s kingpin.
  • It has since emerged that the main agenda of the Embu meeting was to discuss who will inherit President Kenyatta's mantle.

Divisions are emerging in the Mt Kenya region, after four Central Kenya governors and three Cabinet secretaries met in yet another search for the region's kingpin after the exit of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The spokesman will be charged with negotiating on behalf of the region and reap from the proposals contained in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

Last weekend, a group held a meeting at the Embu home of Senator Njeru Ndwiga whose political significance was not lost on observers. Among those present was Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe —  one of those viewed as a possible Mt Kenya spokesman as the hunt for Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor gathers pace. Others are governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Martin Wambora of Embu and Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya.

Other top ranking government officials at the meeting were Transport’s James Macharia, Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.

PRIVATE MEETING

The group is the second to emerge in the region, where another group fronted by Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata is banking on former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.

On Monday, Mr Murungi confirmed that they held talks but declined to give any details, saying the meeting was “private”. “We will communicate more details and address the media at an appropriate time. For now, it is a private matter,” Mr Murungi told Nation on phone.

 The meetings are taking place amid worries that after President Kenyatta’s exit when his term ends, the region will have no notable leader at the national level. In addition,  Central Kenya is for the first time grappling with the prospect of missing out on the country’s  top leadership after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s exit in 2022.

 According to sources, the discussions centred on how the region should come up with a spokesperson “who does not have interest in any top seat” and entrust him with carrying out negotiations on behalf of the region.

Apparently, the leaders are not amused that a group of politicians have been supporting Mr Kenneth to take the mantle of central Kenya as the region’s kingpin.

Mr Kenneth’s support by his Murang’a allies has, however, been received with a lot of skepticism, with many feeling his past political choices have compromised his credibility and popularity.

REGION’S SPOKESMAN

It has since emerged that the main agenda of the Embu meeting was to discuss who will inherit President Kenyatta's mantle. While our sources intimated that Mr Kimemia or Mr Murungi might be named as the region’s spokesman by the group, it remains to be seen how that will be received by the Kang'ata group, which openly supports Mr Kenneth.

While most of the attendees have remained tight-lipped on what transpired, there were also indications of plans to dissolve any political factions that might be cropping up from the Uhuru inheritance politics.

Although Mr Kahiga said the coming together of more than 10 political leaders and Cabinet Secretaries, was a routine meeting to discuss matters affecting the region and country as a whole, there was more than routine to the little-publicised meeting. “We must say that we, as Mt Kenya leaders, have a cardinal responsibility that the fate of the region lies in the hands of the leadership and the public and we must think and speak as one people going forward, not as splinter groups or political camps but as Mt Kenya region,” he said.

 “Anybody with the interest in taking over as the region’s kingpin should not play the part of a negotiator. There is a feeling that that person could be representing other people’s interests and might not represent the region in a non-partisan manner,” said a source.

Mr Kang’ata in defence of his, and other's positions, said that “Kenya is a democracy and we allow everyone to say what he or she wants to say.”

 These developments are coming as panic grips various council of elders groups in the region following reports that the Jubilee Party is pushing for their reorganisation to end up with a new outfit to be known as Mt Kenya Council of Elders.



 This new outfit will replace the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association - led by Bishop Lawi Imathiu.

Insiders say that the new outfit is expected to be the uniting factor between the Tangatanga and Kieleweke factions of the ruling Jubilee Party and eventually rally area residents behind President Uhuru Kenyatta who is expected to launch charm offensive anytime soon in the region to wrench off his Deputy William Ruto’s grip on area politics.

The outfit will then be mandated to join ranks with other stakeholders to tackle the contentious issue of picking the next political kingpin for the region ahead of Mr Kenyatta’s retirement after the 2022 polls.

According to Mr Imathiu, the order to disband is being communicated to them by “people who are saying they have been sent by the president.”

He said there are plans to hold a meeting in Nairobi on Thursday aimed at launching the bigger version of council of elders adding that “the agenda is being pushed in secrecy and in a manner that confuses.”

“We cannot say we are in the know…the information is so scanty and it appears we are wanted to go and be there for show when decisions have been made elsewhere…but by Wednesday I promise I will have more information on this because we are also reaching out to higher offices demanding more information,” he said.

However, he warned that “none whatsoever has the monopoly to pick for us a kingpin…the process should be people driven and it should rise above narrow considerations since what we need is someone with both national and international appeal.”

Reporting by Gitonga Marete, Nicholas Komu, Mwangi Muiruri and Regina Kinogu

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