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Jubilee Party faces disquiet in Mt Kenya East

Sunday September 22 2019

JUBILEE PARTY

From left: Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi and Deputy President William Ruto converse during the requiem mass for the senator's father at Athi Primary School in Igembe South on September 17, 2019. Dr Ruto said projects in the region will be completed. PHOTO | JONAH MWANGI | DPPS  

CHARLES WANYORO
By CHARLES WANYORO
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Loud disquiet has emerged in the Jubilee Party stronghold of Mount Kenya East, with local leaders taking on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, threatening the party's supremacy in the vote-rich region.

In what appears to be the boldest defiance to the Jubilee regime, area leaders led by governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nith) read the riot act to the party leadership in a terse statement of displeasure.

This week, Embu Governor Martin Wambora, a liberal politician who makes calculated moves, hosted former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in what analysts say could be a pointer of the future.

On Tuesday, the straight-shooting Mr Murungi told Dr Ruto to his face that under the prevailing circumstances, he would rather go back to the ‘Bus’ than remain in the party he helped establish.

Speaking at Athi Primary School grounds during the requiem mass for Peter Gichunge Linturi, father of Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, Mr Murungi said the party is “in ICU” and needs urgent resuscitation.

PROJECTS

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He said he was frustrated that even after being convinced to fold APK, which had a following in Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu counties, and founded Jubilee Party, the region was yet to enjoy the fruits.

“We have become gatecrashers in the house that we built. At times we feel as if we are outsiders. Jubilee has failed to give us direction. I feel a lot of pain and I am perplexed.

“Why are you not calling us yet you have my number? If you want to dissolve Jubilee, I will go back to my Bus,” said the governor.

Leaders in the region have been toying with the idea of rejuvenating the Mount Kenya East caucus to fight for their rights in government.

Imenti South MP Kathuri Muringi set the ball rolling when he challenged his predecessor, Mr Murungi, to take the mantle and reunite the region.

Politicians said they feel short-changed because despite voting overwhelmingly for the party in 2013 and 2017, they are yet to enjoy the national cake.

Mr Murungi accused Jubilee of sidelining Meru region.

He cited 130 projects, which Jubilee has unveiled since 2013, but none had been completed yet the region has faithfully stood with the ruling party.

DISUNITY

Mr Murungi said as the architect of the merger of 13 political parties to form Jubilee ahead of the 2013 General Election, he is frustrated by the turn of events and is considering decamping.

“We are going to 2022 with the projects still incomplete; shall we start launching them again? It is embarrassing, even some Njuri Ncheke elders are disillusioned and are saying that Jubilee is a party of hunger,” he said.

Imenti North MP Rahim Dawood had earlier protested that most of the Jubilee flagship projects in his constituency, including by-passes and dual carriageway to ease congestion, had stalled.

Mr Dawood has already declared that he is a member of the “Wanjiku team”, which seeks a better deal in constitutional changes.

Mr Linturi said there is confusion and disunity among the Jubilee members and asked Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto to intervene.

“We should not watch the party that brought us this far collapse. The spirit behind the formation of Jubilee should not be abandoned. We must salvage our party from collapse,” he said.

PATIENCE

However, Dr Ruto urged the leaders to be patient, likening the current confusion to a chef who has to withstand heat and smoke before getting the final product.

He said the party is the strongest in the country with 170 MPs and would come out stronger.

“I want to ask leaders, including my brother Governor Kiraitu, not to lose hope in the party because the small issues will be sorted out,” he said.

The two governors also appealed to the national government to send relief food to save thousands of residents from famine.

It was a particularly humbling scenario for Mr Murungi, who as Imenti South MP and while contesting the gubernatorial seat, declared that he would never seek relief food.

“As Meru, we pride ourselves as people who love food, as people with plenty but this time, we have a problem. People are suffering. Please tell our brother, President Uhuru Kenyatta that we need food,” he pleaded.

Mr Muthomi, who has committed large amounts of money to enhance food security admitted that “the other day you heard that a man slaughtered and cooked his dog due to the biting drought”.