Meru County has been thrown into an election mood more than a year before the next General Election as leaders position themselves for various seats.
Residents, in their hundreds, have been attending political rallies disguised as development meetings. National leaders have not been left behind with Deputy President William Ruto making forays in the area as the fight for control of local votes hots up.
Governor Peter Munya, who like Mr Ruto, is eyeing presidency in 2022 has, however told the DP to keep off the county and concentrate on his stronghold in Rift Valley.
Mr Munya and his former political ally Kiraitu Murungi have crossed swords with the latter taking to the social media to apologise for allegedly misleading the residents in 2013 polls into backing the Council of Governor’s chairman.
“Time has come for me to publicly apologise to you all for the mistake I made in 2013,” Mr Murungi said. “It has only been three years and the governor and his team are becoming good at looting public funds.”
Mr Murungi said he is ready to take over the county’s leadership to steer it to greater heights of development.
But Mr Munya hit back saying Mr Murungi’s apology and regrets were based on “distorted reasoning”.
He disputed Mr Murungi’s claims that there was looting of funds by county government officials and accused the senator of losing touch with reality.
“Being a lawyer, Mr Murungi knows there exists the Penal Code, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act and other laws that address the issues he is complaining about,” Mr Munya said.
Mr Munya says Mr Murungi should retire from politics and accuses him of discriminating parts of the county in development when he called shots in government and having been mentioned in a number of major scandals.
Apart from bare-knuckle fight on social media, Mr Murungi, Mr Munya and their supporters have also lined up a series of meetings in Meru’s nine sub-counties to popularize their gubernatorial bids.
While Mr Murungi enjoys support of a majority of Meru MPs, only Tigania West’s David Karithi has rallied behind Mr Munya. Imenti Central’s Mwiti Irea is against the balkanisation of the county to win votes and is in neither of the two camps.
Mr Murungi’s team has drawn a line-up which was launched in Maua Town last month to help him battle it out with Mr Munya for the county’s top job. Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi will try his luck in the Senatorial race while Woman Representative Florence Kajuju is to seek re-election in Mr Murungi’s camp christened KIKALI (Kiraitu, Kajuju and Linturi).
MPs Kubai Kiringo (Igembe Central), Kathuri Murungi (Imenti South), Mr Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East), Kinoti Gatobu (Buuri) and Rahim Dawood (North Imenti) have also shown support for Mr Murungi.
Although Mr Munya is yet to unveil his line-up as he believes about 70 per cent of MPs are usually not re-elected, a number of county executives have positioned themselves for various posts in his wing.
Security analyst Mwenda Mbijiwe is also in the race to be Meru governor and has already launched intense battle for the seat. A number of leaders are also eyeing various seats in Mr Mbijiwe’s camp.
Also in the race for the governor’s seat is presidential advisor Kilemi Mwiria who gave Mr Munya a run for his money in the 2013 polls.
Nairobi lawyer Mugambi Imanyara has also announced his bid for the Meru senatorial seat and has asked Mr Murungi to hang his gloves for having admitted misleading locals to vote for Mr Munya in 2013.
The massive, expensive and risky early investment of resources in search for support that has seen leaders criss-cross the county has placed it in early campaign mood and heightened tensions and divisions among sub-tribes.
The campaigns will heighten as the clock ticks towards the August 2017 polls as the teams plan to outdo each other in marshalling support.