Njuri Ncheke faction stages coup, gets President’s support - Daily Nation

Njuri Ncheke faction stages coup, gets President’s support

Saturday June 13 2015

President Uhuru Kenyatta meeting with Members of Njuri Ncheke Supreme Council of Ameru Elders who paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi.  PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta meeting with Members of Njuri Ncheke Supreme Council of Ameru Elders who paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi. PHOTO | PSCU 

By LUCAS BARASA
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A faction of the Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders has been given a pat on the back after being hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi.

The group allied to Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki and Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi were the President's guests on Friday in a major game changer, signalling the Head of State's recognition and by extension the national government's support for the team.

During the meeting at the House on the hill, President Kenyatta called for unity among the elders.

The revered council has split into two with one group allied to Prof Kindiki and Prof Kaimenyi among other top Ameru community professionals while the other is associated with Meru Governor Peter Munya and Senator Kiraitu Murungi.

The elders linked to Prof Kindiki who are perceived to enjoy the national government blessings are led by Mzee Paul M'Ethinkia as chairman and Mr Phares Rutere (Secretary General).

It is this group that met the Head of State as his handlers posted photos on twitter titled: "President Uhuru Kenyatta with Njuri Ncheke Elders at State House." Prof Kindiki and Prof Kaimenyi also attended the State House gathering.

Mr Rutere's team was "ousted" by the elders backing Mr Munya and Mr Murungi led by Mr Linus Kathera (chairman) and Mr Josphat Murangiri (Secretary General) in March but the former filed a case in court challenging the move. The case is still pending.

Problems for the Rutere grouped started in January when they installed Prof Kindiki as Ameru elder and the region's communities' spokesman.

The move split the council and was followed by an election a week later which saw Mr Rutere's team being replaced by Kathera's.

Mr M'Ethinkia and Mr Rutere gave the exercise a wide berth, terming it a sham and a scheme by some leaders to divide the elders.

Since then the two groups have been fighting over the running of the council despite the pending court case.

Last month, Prof Kaimenyi rubbed salt to the wound of Kathera's team by paying tribute to the Rutere's team, recognising them as bonafide officials during a function presided over by Deputy President William Ruto.

Prof Kaimenyi's action resulted to Kathera's team proclaiming a curse on him, a thing that was laughed off by Rutere's side.

The control of Njuri Ncheke is crucial for the region's leaders as they play a crucial role in decision making.

The Ameru have since the 17th century been governed by elected and hierarchical councils of elders from the clan level right up to the supreme Njuri-Ncheke Council.

To become a member of the Njuri-Ncheke is the highest social rank to which a Meru man can aspire. The Njuri Ncheke is also the apex of the Meru traditional judicial system and their edicts apply across the entire community.

Prof Kindiki is top most Ameru community politician in the Jubilee administration political hierarchy after President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

The soft spoken politician who is serving his first term in elective politics and a lawyer by profession has been engaged in a major political battle with Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi and Governor Peter Munya for the control of the vote rich Mt Kenya East.

While Prof Kindiki is working to ensure the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) penetrates the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) stronghold, Mr Munya has insisted APK will not be dissolved to join the outfit.

President Kenyatta hopes to use JAP as his vehicle for a second stab at the presidency in 2017.

Prof Kindiki who is eyeing to be Deputy President William Ruto's running mate in 2022, if the DP goes for the top seat, wants to be the region's political kingpin for a better bargaining power.