Eyes on Mt Kenya leaders unity forum
Seth Mwaniki and Mercy Mwai
Politicians drawn from over 20 political parties with roots in Mt Kenya, are set to convene in Embu on Monday to discuss the region’s unity; as President Uhuru Kenyatta moves to wrest the region from Deputy President William Ruto.
Sources privy to the planning of the meeting set to take place at the Izaak Walton Hotel in Embu, said that among those who have confirmed attendance are National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.
As at yesterday evening, the parties that had confirmed representation are Jubilee Party through Kieni MP Kanini Kega, Kiunjuri’s The Service Party(TSP), Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s Chama Cha Kazi, Democratic Party, People’s Party of Kenya and The New Democrats (TND) party led by Thuo Mathenge.
Organisers disclosed they had received a commitment from the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which is associated with Ruto, that it will be represented at the meeting.
“Yes we have a meeting on Monday and over 20 parties have confirmed attendance. Expect a major statement from this meeting,” said one of the organisers who sought anonymity.
Kega while confirming his attendance to the meeting to be hosted by Embu Governor Martin Wambora, said it would bring together like-minded elected leaders and presidential hopefuls from the region.
He said that invitations have also been extended to “persons of interest” including former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and Muturi.
He said the meeting will mainly centre around the region’s economic issues now and post 2022 General Election.
“The question of which presidential candidate the region should support in the next General Election is however not on the agenda,” Kega said.
He added: “Our agenda will strictly be limited to the well-being of our people and we have already shared this with President Uhuru who has given us his blessings.”
Kega who urged leaders from the region to attend the meeting, however maintained that the Mt Kenya will not be lured into supporting a presidential candidate in exchange for political goodies.
“We will not be sweet-talked to follow someone blindly simply because they are promising an offer that sounds big yet hollow,” he said.
Various political leaders eyeing the presidency are already scrambling to get a share of the vote-rich region.
Ruto who has expressed interest for the top seat has strongly indicated that he could pick a running mate from the region, signals also sent by Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi.
The Embu meeting is seen as part of the efforts spearheaded by the President to win over the region’s leadership, currently split between him and Ruto, with a view to ensuring that Mt Kenya goes to the next General Election united behind a common course.
Uhuru is said to be keen to reach out to Ruto’s allies with a view to dissuading them from backing his deputy in the polls.
Uhuru has repeatedly expressed his reluctance to back Ruto’s presidential bid, instead preferring a choice from the former National Super Alliance (Nasa) brigade comprising ODM leader Raila Odinga, Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula as well as Kanu national chairman Gideon Moi.
Speaking elsewhere, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina urged Mt Kenya leaders to forge unity of common purpose instead of aligning themselves with the various presidential contenders.
“Leaders from Mt Kenya should realise that grouping behind candidates will not help our community, instead, we should forge unity for a common purpose and articulate our community’s interests,” he said.
He added: “I personally have no problem with the many parties being formed. We can be okay under one regional party but since this is not possible, we will have to seek unity first.”
Last month,Karua, Kiunjuri and Kuria unveiled an inter-party league to canvas the interests of the region ahead of 2022 polls.