Meru County politics were on overdrive over the weekend after Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya hinted at the possibility of a political pact with his former rivals, Senator Mithika Linturi and East African Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi ahead of the 2022 elections.
The surprise announcement came even as allies of Governor Kiraitu Murungi declared an all-out political war on opponents, whom they said are out to discredit the county boss.
Lately, burial ceremonies have been turned into boxing rings for the rival political heavyweights, with the burial a week ago of the father to Meru County Assembly Minority Leader Ayub Bundi, a PNU member, setting the political tempo.
Interestingly, Mr Linturi and Mr Aburi, who helped governor Murungi defeat Mr Munya in the 2017 election, on Saturday expressed their regrets for fighting the CS and failing to back his Party of National Unity.
Governor Murungi rode to power through the Kikali (Kiraitu, Kajuju, Linturi) outfit that has since disintegrated with the recent exit of Mr Linturi and Ms Kajuju.
Mr Munya, who has been cautious about local politics, only talking about President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four agenda, war on graft and the Building Bridges Initiative, on Saturday finally came clean on his 2022 game plan.
The CS has attended a series of local functions, mostly burial ceremonies, where he has castigated his successor over his handling of county affairs.
Last week, Mr Munya, accused Governor Murungi of mishandling casual workers and spending too much on recurrent budget.
On Saturday, during the burial of Mau Mau fighter Nathan M'Imanyara in Machaku, Mr Munya said he will work with Mr Linturi and Mr Aburi ahead of the 2022 elections.
His announcement comes after a video emerged of him, Mr Linturi and other leaders dancing to a traditional chant in a Meru hotel.
"The president showed us the way in ending confrontational politics. This is why Linturi, Mpuru and I have come together. We want to face the next election together. Is there a problem with that? Anyone against that cannot be helped," Mr Munya said.
He said the unity with his former arch-rivals is in line with the Building Bridges Initiative.
Mr Linturi, a former fierce critic of Mr Munya, regretted fighting PNU, a party which was revamped by Mr MUnya.
Senator Linturi called on Meru residents to support PNU, saying it will be the bargaining chip for the region.
"I urge you to support PNU so that we have something to talk about. I have refused the culture of being used and dumped. When we fought Munya, we thought it was a joke.
"But I am telling you that the greatest mistake we made was failure to support that party because we could be having an identity," he said.
The Meru senator said they have agreed to work together for the interest of the Meru people.
"We will continue with talks but I assure you without fear that we will stick together. We have agreed that Meru must be recognised and ensure the county government delivers by putting it to account," Mr Linturi said.
Mr Aburi said they have since reconciled with Mr Munya and urged him to frequent the county to strengthen his political backyard.
It seems the newfound unity of the former bitter rivals has been fuelled by remarks made by Governor Murungi and Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri that Mt Kenya leaders would soon meet to chart the political future of the region, and pick Mr Kenyatta's successor.
"We have agreed that we cannot go to Limuru to talk about 2022 yet the President has directed us to keep off politics. If the president has said this, who are you to come to Meru and tell us to go to Limuru to decide who will be Mt Kenya leader?" Mr Munya posed.
He added, "The president is barely into his second term. He is our leader and head of State. When that time comes, the President will call us to agree on the way forward. We cannot be called by miscellaneous people."
DELIVER ON MANDATE
The CS said the best way to plan on who to take over after Mr Kenyatta is to allow leaders to deliver on their mandate now.
"The three of us have also agreed that the referendum must bring long-term stability in the country. If that means creating a few more positions, let it be," the Trade CS said.
Mr Linturi accused CS Kiunjuri and Mr Murungi of imposing ideas on Meru people without consulting them.
"I want to tell Mr Kiunjuri that Meru has leaders. You cannot come here to tell us how we will meet in Limuru. Governor Murungi should also know there are other elected leaders in Meru and we have not talked about the Limuru meeting. We cannot be fooled," Mr Linturi said.
Mr Aburi said Mr Munya is a senior politician who is fit to succeed President Kenyatta.
"Sisi hatuendi Naivasha. Naivasha yetu ni Peter Gatirau Munya (We will not go to Naivasha. Our Naivasha is Peter Gatirau Munya). My friends should know that Ameru are now united. Munya is now our regional kingpin," Mr Aburi said.
On county resources, the senator said Meru will receive Sh9.3 billion in the next financial year compared to Sh8.7billion this year.
"I have done my work of pushing for resources and it is upon the governor to deliver development. I will keep monitoring to ensure the money is well spent by working with the county assembly. We are aware of threats to MCAs that if they do not back the executive, no development will be done in their wards.
“They should not be intimidated. The governor has a responsibility to develop all parts of the county irrespective of their political orientation," Mr Linturi said.
But the persistent onslaught on governor Murungi's development agenda has awakened his supporters who have now vowed to use all means to outwit the three.
Nominated MCA Secondina Kanini said they will not stand as political opponents soil the governor's legacy.
"Let it be known that Kiraitu's army is out. Even if the governor has been warning us against bare-knuckled politics, we will not sit and watch as people spew lies. We will step on their toes until they feel the heat," Ms Kanini said on Thursday during a cancer screening drive led by Ms Priscilla Murungi, the governor's wife.
The political battle between the two camps got nasty on Saturday when Mr Aburi clashed with nominated MCA Ruth Kananu, Mr Murungi's ally, during the burial of a woman they had both supported before the political divorce.
Mr Aburi rallied the mourners to reject a Sh20,000 donation, which Ms Kananu said was from Governor Murungi.
"When this lady was sick and in need of portable oxygen, the governor was nowhere to be seen. He did not contribute a single coin," Mr Aburi charged.
As the altercation intensified, Ms Kananu resorted to screaming on top of her voice bringing the burial ceremony to a standstill for several minutes.
Ms Kananu accused Mr Aburi of being dishonest in his remarks, arguing that she resorted to screaming to defend the governor.
But Governor Murungi has maintained that no amount of noise will derail his development agenda.
"However much dogs bark at my development vehicle, it will not stop," Mr Murungi said on Friday.