Party rides on Uhuru wave in Central - Daily Nation

Party rides on Uhuru wave in Central

Saturday October 29 2011

By JOHN NJAGI [email protected]

The Grand National Union (GNU) party is riding on the popularity wave of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in Central Kenya to court grassroots support.

The GNU, a relatively small party, but with ambitions to garner support across the country, is supporting the Mr Kenyatta’s candidacy for president in next year’s elections.

Mr Kenyatta is a popular figure in Central Kenya at least judging from the huge crowds and the number of MPs who accompany him to events.

GNU’s dalliance with one of the leading presidential candidates seems to have captured the interest of several grassroots leaders and, recently, more than 200 councillors from Nyeri and Laikipia attended a meeting at the home of Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri to plan for the 2012 elections.

Mr Kiunjuri, the party leader, said GNU would front its own candidate, in 2017 once it strengthens its grassroots support.

He said the party would only change its stand if Mr Kenyatta decided to run for the presidency on its ticket.

Mr Kenyatta, the Kanu chairman, has not announced the party whose nomination he intends to seek.

In his meetings, Mr Kiunjuri has been categorical that the party will be backing the Finance minister, which has endeared the party to the electorate.
For the GNU leaders, the challenge would be popularising the party in areas outside Central Kenya.

Tackle poverty

According to Mr Kiunjuri, the party hopes to endear itself to the electorate throughout the country by coming up with programmes to tackle poverty.

GNU has defied unity calls by some of the leaders, who are advocating a single party for the region, and picked up the rebel tag. But that tag seems to be working well in its bid to garner support.

Although the party says it has the support of most of the councillors in Nyeri and Laikipia, some of the civic leaders who spoke to the Sunday Nation said they had not made up their minds and they were likely to join the party that Mr Kenyatta chooses as his vehicle for the presidential contest.

“We are listening to each and every party and, even though we would like a single party with Uhuru as the candidate, it is still early to decide which party to join,” said Benson Gichohi, a Nyeri county councillor who attended the Laikipia meeting.

Former Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua, who is the GNU secretary-general, said having may parties does not divide the vote from the region so long as there is a single presidential candidate.

“All we need is synergy between the presidency and the county assemblies so that there is a good working relation at the county and national levels,” said Mr Gachagua, who is eyeing the governor’s seat in Nyeri county.