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Chaos in Nyeri as Kieleweke, Tangatanga supporters clash

Saturday June 29 2019

Gatitu chaos

Police respond as rowdy youths disrupt a gathering in Gatitu, Nyeri County, on June 29, 2019, as Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri launched a Sh250 million water project. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

GRACE GITAU
By GRACE GITAU
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The division between Kieleweke and Tangatanga political groupings took an ugly turn on Saturday when rowdy youth disrupted Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s meeting in Gatitu, Nyeri County.

The minister had a hard time addressing the crowd, pleading with rowdy men and women to calm down and let the meeting proceed.

Mr Kiunjuri, who was in the county to launch the Sh256 million Riamukurwe water project, was caught up in the 2022 succession politics that fuelled the commotion.

The CS has been at been at crossroads amid pressure to support President Uhuru Kenyatta while angling himself to be Deputy President William Ruto's deputy come the next general election.

Dr Ruto is expected to vie to succeed President Kenyatta once his second and final term ends.

Police confront a supporter of Nyeri MP
Police confront a supporter of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu after a crowd disrupted a meeting that Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri attended during the launch of Riamukurwe water project in Gatitu, Nyeri County, on June 29, 2019. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU

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RIOT ACT

The CS arrived at around 11 am accompanied by Nyeri Woman Representative Rahab Mukami. He then unveiled the plaque and officially launched the laying of pipes for the project.

Mr Kiunjuri, who had seemingly gathered intelligence that the crowd would be politically charged, was the first to speak after opening prayers.

He read the riot act, saying, “If anyone has been sent to this meeting to humiliate a leader, let them know we will be watching. If you are in Tangatanga or Kieleweke and want to engage in politics, go to the stadium."

He announced that only five leaders would be allowed to speak and asked them to respect each other.

Supporters of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu disrupt
Supporters of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu disrupt a meeting that Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri during the launch of Riamukurwe water project at Gatitu, Nyeri town, on June 29, 2019. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU | NATIONN MEDIA GROUP

CHANTS

Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu arrived about 30 minutes after the meeting started, accompanied by boda boda riders who were hooting and chanting Kieleweke slogans.

This brought the meeting to a standstill.

In her address, Nominated MCA Julia Wanjiku accused her colleagues of inciting the people and failing to support national government projects.

When MCA Simon Muturi was invited to speak, the crowd grew hostile and did not allow him to talk.

Some youths confronted the MCA and removed him from the dais before he was rescued by police officers. 

Police confront a supporter of Nyeri MP
Police confront a supporter of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu after a crowd disrupted a meeting that Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri attended during the launch of Riamukurwe water project in Gatitu, Nyeri County, on June 29, 2019. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU

FIST FIGHT

Mr Wambugu and Mr Muturi's supporters engaged in a war of words that quickly degenerated into a fist fight.

The CS was forced to take over the function and try to restore calm but his pleas landed on deaf years.

The MP then took charge of the event, insisting that he would not allow leaders to campaign in his constituency.

“The project we are launching today has been financed by President Kenyatta. If anyone thinks it’s their money let them go home," Mr Wambugu said.

We will not allow anyone to mislead us. We must focus on assisting President Kenyatta secure his legacy, instead of politicking."

Supporters of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu disrupt
Supporters of Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu disrupt a meeting that Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri during the launch of Riamukurwe water project at Gatitu, Nyeri town, on June 29, 2019. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU | NATIONN MEDIA GROUP

'NORMAL' POLITICKING

After issuing his remarks, the MP invited the CS who reiterated that he was committed to helping the President implement his Big Four agenda and develop Mt Kenya.

“It is ironical that leaders demanding projects in Mt Kenya are the same ones turning development meetings into political rallies,” he said.

Political brokers from both sides reportedly spent Friday evening organising hecklers. A security meeting held Friday to discuss the concerns appeared to have yielded no fruit.

Mr Wambugu admitted the existence of political dereferences between him and the MCA but said this was normal.

He noted he did not anticipate in any fighting because the event was on development.

“We may not agree politically but on development matters we must be on the same page. There could be political noise but that should never interfere with development,” he said.