Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi is a disappointed man. He sounds disenchanted and feels betrayed, especially by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
“People are hurling insults at those of us who had worked hard to create a political vehicle for our side of the coalition but we will not be distracted,” he told the Sunday Nation. “We don’t deserve insults.”
The South Imenti MP in February resigned from his post as the secretary-general of the Party of National Unity (PNU) to build a political party for principal presidential candidates from his side of the coalition.
During a September meeting at Karen, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and PNU chairman George Saitoti signed an accord, committing to joint nomination of a presidential standard bearer in the coming election.
The agreement was that they would operate under a common umbrella from which one of them, a primus inter pares (first among equals), would be picked and the rest support him.
In December 2011, the three signed a joint protocol witnessed by President Kibaki at Diani Beach Hotel binding them to the idea. That is how the Alliance Party of Kenya (commonly known as the Bus) was born.
But Mr Kenyatta abandoned the Kiraitu bus and found a home in The National Alliance Party. Mr Musyoka and Prof Saitoti also appear disinterested in the progress of the Kiraitu project.
Now the Energy minister, who probably had mooted a plan to cast himself as a kingmaker in the wider Mt Kenya region, accuses Mr Kenyatta of breaking the Karen accord.
The Kiraitu group has translated the DPM’s move and subsequent utterances by his allies as a derision of the Meru bloc.
“We were disappointed when Mr Kenyatta settled on TNA. He has been part of efforts to build the Alliance Party, having participated in our meetings in Karen and Diani,” Mr Murungi told the Sunday Nation.
A source in the party said Mr Kenyatta had all along indicated that he would vie for the presidency on an APK ticket. According to the APK official, Mr Kenyatta had paid Sh5 million annual rent for the party’s offices and funded the recruitment of members.
But after assistant minister Lewis Nguyai said all those wishing to support the DPM’s candidature must abandon their parties and flock to TNA, Mr Murungi came out in a bare-knuckled response.
Mr Nguyai angered the Uhuru camp by the declaration that Mt Kenya “would better vote for dogs rather than leaders who belong to small parties”. And now Mr Murungi is categorical that anybody seeking the Meru vote should go to them and the converse would not be acceptable.
“Those interested in our (Meru) vote should come to us, not the other way round. We are not going to look for those interested in our support. It is them who should come and talk to us as APK. We are not going to compromise on this position,” he declared.
An ally of Mr Kenyatta who spoke on condition of anonymity said the DPM was pushing the one-party idea.
“He is strongly persuaded that the Mt Kenya voters should put all their eggs in one basket if they are to have a meaningful presence in Parliament and Senate after the election,” he said.
Causing more damage
But Mr Murungi is adamant. “We are firmly in the bus. The insults are causing more damage to Mr Kenyatta’s cause because they are antagonising his traditional supporters. We deserve more respect and more dignity.”
Mr Murungi said their search for the “Bus driver” continues. He said the Constitution has set a very high threshold for those running for president and it is highly unlikely that any of the contestants can garner more than half of all the votes cast.
The suggestion here is that without a presidential candidate, the Meru region still remains important as it could provide the critical swing vote. And that it would not come cheap.
“We will support a candidate with the best agenda for the country and who offers us the best deal.
“It would require compromise and support from outside the candidate’s regions. That is why our door is still open to Mr Musyoka, Prof Saitoti, Mr Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.”
But the party will field candidates for Parliament, Senate and the county assemblies. But there has been debate on whether Mr Murungi would live up to his threat and wield his influence over the Meru bloc.
Already, there are indications that assistant ministers Kareke Mbiuki, Kilemi Mwiria and Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara are unlikely to board the Kiraitu bus.
“You would be committing political suicide by joining APK if you hail from Tharaka-Nithi County,” said Mr Mbiuki, who belongs Kanu.
But Mr Murungi warned individuals seeking political seats in Mt Kenya region that they run the risk of losing unless they contest on an APK ticket.