Azimio leaders
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Sharp divide among Mt Kenya leaders over today’s Limuru III

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Azimio principals led by (from left) Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni, Martha Karua (Narc Kenya), George Wajackoyah (Roots Party), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper Party) and Eugene Wamalwa (DAP-K Party) arrive for a press briefing in Nairobi on February 16, 2024. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Opposition politicians led by Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua converge today for the Limuru III summit, which appears to have split the populous Mt Kenya region down the middle.

At the same time, Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria claimed that he had been invited to offer a keynote address during the gathering that is largely expected to be critical of President William Ruto’s administration.

But Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni — one of the conveners — dismissed the claim while suggesting that he may not even be granted the opportunity to address the meeting.

Mr Kioni said having government officials address the gathering would beat logic since it has been convened to address the failures of President Ruto’s administration and the many taxes, that he said, have killed businesses in the region.

Mr Kuria had told the Nation that he had been asked to talk about “economic pathways for Mt Kenya region” during the event. He even circulated a poster with his image for the event.

The CS added that he had been invited for institutional memory since he participated in organising both Limuru I and Limuru II, and that the event is by the people and should not be seen as an opposition initiative.

He disagreed with other leaders from the region, including National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah, who have accused the opposition leaders from the region of engaging in ethnic balkanisation.

He said there is usually not much fuss when other communities engage in such forums, it only becomes a problem when Mt Kenya does.

Mr Kioni accused Mr Kuria of inviting himself to the summit without engaging the organisers.

He said the keynote address will be made by an ordinary farmer affected by the new policies of President Ruto’s administration.

“Our problem is Kenya Kwanza. We don’t expect Kenya Kwanza politicians to be there unless they are defecting or they are coming there to disrupt us,” said Mr Kioni.

“People must stop inviting themselves to our meeting. This is not his meeting. Keynote addresses will be made by ordinary people whose lives have been affected by the punitive taxes.” 

The former Ndaragwa MP claimed that President Ruto is determined to ensure that come 2027, no one from the region will have a voice politically, and “this is unacceptable”.

The planned summit appears to have divided the region as opposed to the previous ones that saw the region speak in one voice.

Limuru I was convened by then Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association chairman Njenga Karume. Among the resolutions was that Mt Kenya would always speak with one voice politically.

Limuru II was on March 23, 2012 where then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta was picked to contest the country’s presidency.

Apart from Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Mr Ichung’wah, former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth has also dismissed the conference as an unnecessary and mischievous political adventure.

“Our current problems are economic and not political. We have a government in place duly installed as per the rule of law. What we need is to come up with an action plan of winning economic gains,” said Mr Kenneth, a member of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya.

“We want a conversation that seeks to move Mt Kenya region to the aspirations of Vision 2030. Any debate outside economic emancipation is defeatist. Any Mountain unity forum convened without representation of all spheres is just a petty drive. We need Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wa and Budget and Appropriation Committee chair Ndindi Nyoro in that meeting. Uhuru Kenyatta must also be there. It will happen soon, but not now,” he added.

But according to Ms Karua, various issues related to politics and “oppression” of the community by the current regime will be discussed.

The agenda, she said, will be a discussion on the unity of the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities, looming reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the delimitation of boundaries.

“Also to be discussed is the tax burden against our people by the regime, the one-man-one-shilling resource allocation formula and forming a Mt Kenya political parties umbrella body,” she said in an earlier interview.

Mr Gachagua recently asked Ms Karua and Mr Kioni to abandon the conference and instead engage him on issues affecting the region.

“If there are things for this region that do not go well, I am there and I mean well for this region and everybody knows where my heart is. So I am the best person to talk to. Let them come anytime and any day to tell me the areas we need to improve,” he said.

Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu at the weekend said those behind Limuru III have made little effort to conceal their onslaught against the government by painting it as insensitive to Mt Kenya’s political and economic interests.