Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is today expected to lead top Mt Kenya leaders to discuss ongoing anti-government protests called by opposition leader Raila Odinga in two gatherings where the name of former President Uhuru Kenyatta may feature.
The Sunday Nation has learnt that the lawmakers, Cabinet Secretaries, governors, Principal Secretaries and other senior government officials will converge on Thika for a church service before heading to Trade, Investment and Industry CS Moses Kuria’s homecoming ceremony.
Leaders familiar with the agenda of the event say the said role of Mr Kenyatta in the ongoing Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party protests is likely to be discussed.
Mr Kuria, who hails from the same constituency as Mr Kenyatta, confirmed inviting the leaders to the event but said he was not aware of what they were going to say.
“I have invited leaders for my thanksgiving and they are free to say what they want to say,” Mr Kuria told the Sunday Nation.
Mr Gachagua and a host of Mt Kenya politicians have accused Mr Kenyatta of bankrolling the protests, occasioning losses to traders from the region.
They have, however, not provided any evidence to back up the allegations. Mr Kenyatta has also not participated in the demonstrations.
The meeting comes ahead of the second week of protests in Nairobi that Mr Odinga has described as the “mother of all demonstrations”.
The opposition leader has also disclosed plans to lead a procession to State House, Nairobi, to present a petition to President William Ruto.
No retreat, No Surrender
Yesterday, Mr Odinga vowed to continue with the protests until the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) opens the August 9 poll servers and subjects them to a forensic audit to establish the winner of the presidential contest.
He is also demanding a stop to the ongoing reconstitution of IEBC commissioners.
In a statement released by the coalition’s spokesman Makau Mutua last evening, Mr Odinga took offence with President Ruto’s remarks challenging him to face him instead of taking his protests to the streets.
“Ruto has refused to address key demands of the people. He says he cannot discuss the integrity of the last election,” Prof Mutua said.
“That is why he has refused to open the IEBC servers for an independent forensic audit of the election. Similarly, we reject in toto Ruto’s attempt to single-handedly recruit the IEBC so that he can rig himself in 2027.”
“If Ruto believes he won the elections fairly, what is he afraid of? What does he fear the servers will reveal if they are subjected to scrutiny? We believe only the truth will set Kenya free. On this matter, we cannot compromise.”
In an interview with the BBC on Friday, Mr Kuria said there is no possibility of the Ruto administration holding talks with Mr Odinga.
He added that the opposition leader “has had his way for far too long’, calling the protests “economic terrorism”.
“He had it with (former president Mwai) Kibaki, he had it with Uhuru. He is not going to have it this time. He cannot be rewarded for undermining institutions,” the minister said.
Members of Mr Odinga’s Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD) yesterday announced plans to camp in the City Centre from this evening ahead of tomorrow’s protests.
The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition, through its executive council chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, earlier this week notified police of plans to lead a procession to State House.
Mr Oparanya and his team indicated that the protests would be from morning to evening.
“In the course of the meeting/procession on March 27, we intend to submit a written petition to the presidency at State House, Nairobi. The procession will take place in all the streets within your jurisdiction from dawn to dusk,” said the coalition in a notice to Central Police Station.
According to a senior Mt Kenya politician at the centre of the planned Kuria homecoming, the leaders will explore various means of “dealing” with Mr Kenyatta.
The leader, who spoke off-record, told the Sunday Nation that asking their supporters to retaliate economically against Mr Kenyatta’s business interests would be one of the strategies to consider.
Mr Kenyatta is still serving as the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition chairman.
“As a community, we are major stakeholders in the economy of this country. The protests have affected our people,” he said.
“People who left office are sponsoring the protests. Enough is enough. We want to take a position on this matter as Mt Kenya leaders to end the circus.”
The leader said the meeting would be attended by MPs, CSs and Principal Secretaries.
“They will discuss and make a resolution on the way forward. Raila is not for this mass action. He is being pushed,” he added.
Mr Odinga last week called on his supporters to boycott services and products of certain companies he accused of aiding the Ruto administration.
Mr Gachagua and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah have on several occasions accused Mr Kenyatta of bankrolling the protests.
“We know who is behind this mass action. I want to tell Kenyans not to be afraid because we have put everything in place to protect them and their properties,” Mr Ichung’wa said.
The DP said individuals and corporates sponsoring Mr Odinga are wasting time.
Mr Ichung’wa has linked Mr Kenyatta to the protests while addressing the House.
“We know Uhuru is behind the protests. Raila is just being used. Kenyans must know they are safe. Nobody will destroy their property. The government will deal with those protesters as per the law,” he said.
Mathira MP Eric Mwangi Wamumbi confirmed knowledge of the meeting.
“I have been invited. It is not a Mt Kenya leaders’ meeting. It is Moses Kuria who has invited his friends to a house-opening ceremony. Most of his friends are Mt Kenya leaders,” Mr Wamumbi said.
Gatundu South MP Gabriel Kagombe also confirmed being one of the conveners of the meeting.
Nyandarua Senator John Methu told the Sunday Nation that Mr Gachagua would be the chief guest at the “goat-eating” meeting.
“It is a thanksgiving for the CS. Several leaders have been invited. If there will be any serious discussion it can only be about the development agenda for our region,” he said.