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Mt Kenya roots for Limuru conference to pick new kingpin

Sunday May 5 2019

Limuru summit

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi operates an earth mover when he launched the first Sh116 million road project in the county on April 2. He and Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri last week called for a Limuru summit. PHOTO | GITONGA MARETE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WANJOHI GITHAE
By WANJOHI GITHAE
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ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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There is a growing consensus among Mt Kenya leaders for a Limuru conference to chart the way forward for the region.

Since 1966, Limuru town in Kiambu County has been the centre of regional politics.

The first conference came up with decisions to water down the powers of Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his eventual removal from the ruling party, Kanu.

There was no other meeting until 2012 when Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was anointed the Mt Kenya leader.

At the time, Mr Kenyatta, alongside current Deputy President William Ruto and four other people, were facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Seven years later and with the clock ticking towards the end of the Kenyatta presidency, leaders from the region are drumming up support for a “Limuru Three” summit to set the political agenda for the region.

It is also expected to anoint the region’s political kingpin.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi set the ball rolling last week when they called for the conference. They were supported by several leaders.

Mr Kiunjuri said a time has come for members of Kiama kia Ma (Kikuyu elders), Njuri Ncheke (Meru elders), religious and political leaders to come together and set the post 2022 agenda for Mt Kenya region.

2022 ELECTION

Whereas there seems to be a consensus that the region needs to have such a meeting, the leaders are divided on when it should take place.

While some believe it should be held soon, others say it should take place a year or less to the General Election.

The leaders are in agreement that Mt Kenya is more divided politically than at any other time since 1992.

Two groups — Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke — pulling in different directions, have emerged.

The situation has left the region politically without direction.

Tanga Tanga is associated with leaders who support Mr Ruto’s presidential bid while Kieleweke is opposed to that.

Since his re-election in 2017, Mr Kenyatta has reduced his tours to the region, confounding elected leaders.

DIVIDED COMMUNITY

On the other hand, Mr Ruto has pitched camp in Mt Kenya in a bid to solidify his support base ahead of the election.

Mr Kiunjuri feels the conference is inevitable.

“We cannot be naive and go to the elections as a divided community. Such a meeting should be held in 2021. For now, let us support the President’s Big Four Agenda,” the minister said.

Mr Kiunjuri and Mr Murungi are seen as potential kingpins of the region.

Senate Deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure, who has good relations with the President and Mr Ruto, is also touted as a possible leader.

Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said Mt Kenya region shares culture and socio-political interests “but is working at cross purposes at the moment”.

“We may be supporting the Deputy President in his 2022 bid but we need to have our own minimum expectations,” the senator said.

“Mt Kenya has 10 counties and a solid block of votes. If we are divided, we will be crucified separately and that is why I call for such a meeting. The earlier the better.”

Chuka Igambang’ombe MP Patrick Munene supported Mr Kinyua, saying the conference should be held without delay.

“A time has come for us to have a sitting. Mr Kiunjuri may be offering himself as a Mt Kenya leader. Others may come out but all these will be settled in Limuru,” Mr Munene said.

“In 1992, Mr Kenneth Matiba and Mr Mwai Kibaki divided us. We need to identify our leader early enough. The divisions being witnessed are not good for the region.”

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who is the foremost leader of the Kieleweke group, said he and Mr Murungi having been in politics for the longest time and understand political dynamics deeply.

The former Starehe MP said he and the Meru governor recognise Mr Kenyatta as the Mt Kenya leader. “There should be no rush to hold the meeting. Let it come a few months to the election,” Mr Kamanda said.

“There is work to do for now. We must first of all agree on the need to change the Constitution, support the (Uhuru-Raila Odinga) handshake and the President’s agenda.”

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who has been charting a political path independent of Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga, dismissed the calls for the conference.

“If the meeting is to appraise us on what they have done for the region as Agriculture and Energy ministers, I support it fully. Coffee, tea, potato, miraa, avocado and pyrethrum farmers from the region will savour such a meeting with Kiunjuri. Areas which are yet to get electricity will be eager to learn a few things from what Kiraitu did for the region as the Minister for Energy,” he said.