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Citizen Weekly

Monday 4 August 2014


Last week’s withdrawal of lawyer Kiarie Kamere of the New Democratic Party from the Gatundu South by-election race has further complicated matters for TNA leader President Uhuru Kenyatta who is now being accused of forcing Kamere to step down in favour of TNA candidate Moses Kuria.

Sources say Uhuru was acting on intelligence report which had indicated that Kamere was leading and the gap was widening as more voters continued to desert  Kuria’s camp. TNA top brass did not wish to see Uhuru embarrassed in his own political turf hence pressure to have Kamere withdraw.

It is still not known if Uhuru’s phone call to Kamere did the magic but sources well versed with Kamere’s political brand allege that there had been rumours that he would withdraw after some top Jubilee politicians promised him state job. Reports say that Kamere had been overheard bragging that he was about to land ambassadorial job courtesy of State House.

When the news of his withdrawal hit Gatundu, his supporters termed the act as cowardice and betrayal of the highest order. Others vowed never to vote for him ever and dared him to contest as they are ready to teach him an everlasting political lesson. Majority of voters who were in Kamere’s camp have vowed to vote for Kuria’s opponent. Kamere made the announcement at Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi. Before the press conference, Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew Jomo Gecaga who also serves as Uhuru’s aide was spotted at the hotel. Also present was Ngengi Muigai who is Uhuru’s cousin and former MP of the area.

Before Kamere’s pullout, Kuria was a man under political siege as his close allies including local MPs abandoned him at the hour of need. As the clock quickly ticks towards the August 7 by-election, we have gathered that several MPs from the larger Kiambu region had secretly deserted Kuria.

It has been whispered that most local MPs opposed to Kuria’s candidature view him as an overbearing activist who if elected will steal the political show. Kiambu governor William Kabogo’s fear is that Kuria is over ambitious and can go for the plum seat.

Recently, Kuria’s campaigns suffered a devastating blow after his campaign manager George Kaimburu withdrew his support and defected to Kamere’s camp alongside hundreds of supporters.

To hit back, supporters of Kamere also defected to Kuria’s camp and a lobby group Mururumo Na Uhuru led by Caleb Warari has joined the TNA candidate camp.
The setback Kuria has suffered is as a result of power struggle in TNA involving party chairman Johnson Sakaja and secretary Onyango Oloo on one hand and a section of legislators out to remove them on the other. The idea is to have the party lose the seat which is the home ground of President Uhuru Kenyatta and then blame Oloo and Sakaja for having imposed Kuria to the electorate who were against the move.

It is said that it was Onyango and Sakaja who supported Kuria’s candidature against the will of majority of TNA MPs and MCAs. A plot is now being hatched to make sure that Kuria is beaten hands down and that will be an entry point to make new changes in the party’s top leadership.
TNA has been facing leadership wrangles with a number of MPs demanding that the party should hold fresh elections to replace the interim officials.

What has come out clearly is that majority of TNA MPs especially those from the Mount Kenya region have now declared that Gatundu voters should be allowed to elect a leader of their choice without undue influence.

Among the MPs who have publicly refused to endorse Kuria are MPs Mburu Kahangara (Lari), Njoroge  Baiya (Githunguri), Kigo Njenga (Gatundu North), Humphrey Njuguna (Gatanga) and Njogu Barua (Gichugu).

To further show that TNA MPs have abandoned Kuria, during a funds drive presided over by Majority Leader Aden Duale, none of the MPs attended where only Sh8 million was raised.
Another fundraiser held at Windsor Golf Club to raise money for Kuria’s campaign was boycotted by all the 13 Kiambu county MPs except Limuru lawmaker Peter Kiragu. Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and Senator Kimani Wamatangi were also absent, with only the governor sending his contribution.

Sources say that the TNA MPs who have abandoned Kuria at the hour of great need now say that it was wrong for politicians to interfere in the by-elections by campaigning for a particular candidate, and that residents should be given the democratic space to decide.

Contrary to perceptions that clinching a TNA ticket for the by-election was as good as being elected, the reality is now sinking on Kuria who has decided to burn the midnight oil to counter growing rebellion.

Kiamburu’s defection has been a blow to Kuria and more so, after he made a revelation that Kuria is not even a registered voter in Gatundu South and that he did not have a home in the constituency.

Propaganda on the ground is that Kuria is a registered voter in Nairobi county and not in Gatundu something that is beginning to work negatively against him. By last week, Kiamburu’s defection and the new revelations were hurting Kuria’s campaigns who is now said to be relying on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s support to win the seat.

The architect of the anti-Kuria campaigns is the widow of the immediate former MP Joseph Ngugi. Joyce Wanjiku, the widow, came second in the party controversial primaries. At first, she had plotted to decamp from TNA to contest on URP ticket but things did not work out for her. She was forced by circumstances to swallow her pride but to remain in TNA.

What has now come out clear is that Uhuru has a soft spot for Kuria going by the decision of his deputy William Ruto and Duale to senior Jubilee officials to back Kuria. Ruto even went a head to promise Kamere, a lawyer by profession, a plum in government. For sometime, Uhuru has decided to keep off the Gatundu by-elections to allow voters to elect a leader of their choice but use his key allies to push for Kuria before stepping in. Sources say Uhuru might also be acting on intelligence report, which according to sources close to Kuria’s campaign team, indicated that Kamere was ahead.

The President is aware Ruto was embarrassed when a section Gatundu voters publicly rejected his calls to have them vote for Kuria. 
Some statements made by Ruto during his campaign tour were in favour of Kuria. “Mimi naunga mkono huyu jamaa Kuria kwa sababu yeye anaweza kubishana na wale watu wa vitendawili na hiyo inatupa wakati wa kufanya kazi mimi na Rais,” said DP Ruto.

Pro-Kuria Gatundu voters say that he is the best candidate to checkmate Cord in parliament.
It is said Uhuru had sent Ruto and Adan Duale to test waters for him and the report is that the reception the two leaders received was not impressive. Duale was overheard saying that Kuria’s victory is a forgone conclusion and that he will only participate in the by-election.

“The people of Gatundu have no choice but vote for Kuria,” he made the remark in Nairobi during a fundraising meeting to raise funds for Kuria’s campaigns where the Sh8 million was raised. Uhuru did not send any contribution raising eyebrows.

Initially, Kuria had hoped to run on the back of the party’s popularity in the constituency by virtue of being associated with the president. However, the candidate he defeated in the nomination and who did not concede defeat, is slowly regrouping his battalion to support Kamere forcing him to think twice.

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