The rift among the Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders widened over the weekend after a faction ousted Mr Francis as the patron and appointed Chuka University Vice Chancellor Erastus Njoka to replace him.
The removal of Mr Muthaura by the group led by Mzee Paul M’Ithinkia and Mr Phares Rutere comes a week after Muthaura led another faction in ratifying a new constitution and leadership.
Mr Muthaura has support from a group led by Mr Linus Kathera and Mr Josphat Murangiri, who have access the Nchiru shrine.
The group also refused to cede leadership to Mr Kathera leading to a legal suit and an out-of-court settlement.
But Mr M’Ithinkia’s group rejected the mediation process led by Mr Muthaura citing lack of fairness.
Prof Njoka, who attended the meeting of the rebel group at the Meru ASK showground on Saturday, said he would consider the appointment as patron.
About 500 elders from Meru and Tharaka-Nithi counties endorsed Prof Njoka accusing Muthaura of favouring their rivals.
Speaking after endorsing the Chuka University VC, Mr Rutere said Mr Muthaura was working with a group that had been subdued by politicians.
“Njuri Ncheke is not a political group and its mandate is to settle disputes and unite the community. Muthaura chose to support a group that is not registered by the Registrar of Societies,” Mr Rutere said.
BLAMED POLITICIANS FOR RIFT
He blamed the divisions in the Njuri Ncheke on top politicians in Meru and Tharaka-Nithi whom he said are out to use the elders’ influence to win support.
Prof Njoka also blamed politicians for the split and promised to initiate talks to end rivalry among Njuri Ncheke elders.
However, Mr Murangiri scoffed at Prof Njoka’s appointment terming the elders who picked him as rebels who had disregarded Njuri Ncheke rules.
“The mediation team led by Ambassador Francis Muthaura had invited this group as well as Prof Njoka but they refused to turn up.
“Any group speaking as Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders from Meru and Tharaka-Nithi must do so at the Nchiru shrine,” Mr Murangiri said.
Speaking during the ratification of the Njuri Ncheke constitution, Mr Muthaura said names of new leaders would be presented to the Registrar of Societies.
“We decided to have an electoral process to resolve the dispute which was caused by lack of a clear transition in leadership. All elders had been invited to participate in the process,” Mr Muthaura said.
The animosity against Muthaura came to the fore during the Ameru Professionals Conference at Chuka University in October after elders walked out on him.
Tens of elders walked out of the meeting after Mr Muthaura addressed the professionals on behalf of the Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders.
Land minister Prof Jacob Kaimenyi and Prof Njoka, who is also the chairman of the Ameru Professionals Association, managed to calm the elders after a lengthy discussion.
The divisions in Njuri Ncheke were stirred by the installation of Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki as an elder and Ameru community spokesman in January 2015.
A week later, Meru County government supported what they called the first ever democratic election in Njuri Ncheke.