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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 2 November 2014

MERU POLITICS: UHURU MOVES TO TAME REBELLION

The recent appointment of  Prof Kilemi Mwiria to the position of president’s adviser on matters of education has tilted the political equation and power games in the larger Meru politics. His appointment that will see him have access to the president is aimed at taming the anti-Jubilee forces in Meru region.
Barely a week before President Uhuru Kenyatta gave Mwiria a political lifeline, the Meru county politics had taken a dramatic turn after politicians allied to Senator Kiraitu Murungi and Governor Peter Munya gave the Jubilee administration an ultimatum for purportedly sidelining the region in development.
The fear in Jubilee and within Uhuru inner circle is that the Meru region could be planning to break away from Jubilee. Kiraitu who is also the APK leader has also threatened to pull his party out of the Jubilee coalition.
Sources say Kiraitu has all along been threatening to severe ties with Jubilee if APK is not allocated a portion of political party funds released to parties.  But some Jubilee leaders in a quick rejoinder said the government does not operate on threats and dared Murungi to pull out of the coalition.
“We don’t want threats to our government. If they wish to pull out, they should do so even without informing us. APK has no numbers to hold guns to a superior coalition like Jubilee that owns the government,” they said in a statement.
 TNA chairman Johnson Sakajja said it is unfortunate that APK leader Kiraitu is talking about the issue through the media without making a formal request. “Any such request should be made through the coalition structures and as far as I am aware, there is no such request that has come to me or TNA,” the chairman said.
In what is now being seen as a show of might, Kiraitu and Munya marshalled a strong team of 80 elected leaders from the region in a meeting analysts say is a fightback plan to reclaim their lost clout in Meru political map.
Analysts say the Kiraitu team has been elbowed by a new crop of young and dynamic politicians most of whom made their debut in elective politics in the last general elections.
Although the Kiraitu-Munya team brags of having almost all MCAs in their faction, the other camp led by Senator Kithure Kindiki who is the senator for Tharaka-Nithi county is having majority of MPs in their camp.
The supremacy battle that is being fought in the region is now threatening to derail development projects in the area. Whereas the Kiraitu team claims of having been in politics for long as compared to the Kindiki team, the reality on the ground now is that the Kindiki team is closer to the centre of power than the Kiraitu faction.
In the previous governments, Kiraitu has always remained the most powerful powerbroker and one who had president Mwai Kibaki’s ear. Kiraitu rose to prominence when he was named by Kibaki as the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister in 2003 and later  Energy minister. He also served in the Grand Coalition government at a time when he was among the few ministers Kibaki trusted.
The big problem now is that Kiraitu has been kicked out of the corridors of power and the Jubilee administration does not  recognise him as a party leader and as a senior politician from the region as he would like.
Trouble for Kiraitu began in the run-up to the 2013 elections when he refused to disband his APK party to join Uhuru’s TNA. Although the Meru people had soft spot for Uhuru’s candidature, Kiraitu was sending mixed signals that he was more comfortable working with then internal Security minister George Saitoti.
He had to swallow his pride and join the Uhuru bandwagon and fielded candidates on APK ticket but supported Uhuru and his running mate William Ruto. Although the Meru community voted for Uhuru overwhelmingly, he was sidelined by the Jubilee leadership who prefer working with Kandiki and Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire.
To show how Jubilee has frustrated Kiraitu, he was forced to withdraw from the race for the Senate Majority leader in favour of Kindiki. Sources say it was Ruto who demanded that Kindiki be considered rather than Kiraitu. What they failed to take note of is the fact that Kiraitu was more senior in politics than Kindiki and secondly that Kiraitu was a party leader and not just a mere senator. This did not go down well with Kiraitu who reluctantly withdrew his candidature.
Even before dust settled, the election of Peter Munya was nullified and Kiraitu’s APK felt betrayed because the petitioner, Mwiria, was a TNA candidate.
Kiraitu had to fight yet another battle as he marshalled all the APK MCAs in the county who declared support for Munya as all Meru MPs rallied behind Mwiria. Although the Supreme Court upheld Munya’s election, TNA MPs have vowed to kick him out before the expiry of his term.
It is against this background of alleged betrayal that Kiraitu is now threatening to lead Meru politicians loyal to him to break away from Jubilee. Last week, Kiraitu and Munya gave a tough worded statement that has now given Jubilee operatives sleepless nights.
To kick out the Kindiki group from the corridors of power, the Kiraitu faction has now crafted plans to deal with them tactically by playing populist politics that will endear them to the people of Meru.
One of the resolutions reached by the Kiraitu faction is to push for more resources to be allocated to the area. They also resolved to ban politicians from outside the county from holding rallies. Sources say this resolution targetted Ruto who is known to have political interest in the region as was witnessed during the Munya petition.
Munya argued that the Meru community contributed the fourth largest voting bloc for the Jubilee coalition and should benefit in similar proportion from government projects and other goodies.
They say the region has produced high flying politicians in the country hence need for the Jubilee administration to give them what rightfully belongs to them. Some of the past prominent politicians from the region include the late Bernard Mate (Legco Representative for Central Province), the late Jackson Angaine (minister for Lands and Settlement), Adams Karauri (MP, Tigania), Kabeere M’Mbijiwe (minister for Health), David Mwiraria (Finance minister) and Gitobu Imanyara (MP, Imenti Central and civil rights advocate). MP Apuri Mpuri has no time for Kiraitu camp. He is in parliament on ODM ticket.