Rift among Mt Kenya leaders deepens ahead of Meru forum

Monday, February 24th, 2020 07:29 |
Kimani Ichung’wa.

Divisions within the Jubilee Party in Mt Kenya deepened yesterday after it emerged that two camps are meeting separately today to craft the region’s agenda ahead of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rally in Meru on Saturday.

The separate meetings— one by Mt Kenya Parliamentary Group for elected leaders and another by Mt Kenya Foundation, a lobby for wealthy and influential businessmen— are set to be held this evening in the city. 

Elected leaders comprising MPs, senators and MCAs mostly allied to Tanga Tanga, which is rooting for Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 State House bid, will meet at Panafric Hotel while the wealthy individuals backing the Kieleweke group that supports President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Handshake with Opposition chief Raila Odinga, will converge at Safari Park Hotel. Both meetings are set to kick off at 6.30pm.

The invite by the MPs reads in part: “We cordially invite you to a dinner hosted by the Mt Kenya Parliamentary Group at the Panafric Hotel on Monday, February 24, starting 6.30pm. Your input in the consultation towards a regional position on the BBI is highly appreciated.”

Craft agenda

The one by the foundation reads: “ We cordially invite you to a dinner jointly hosted by the Mount Kenya Foundation and the Central Region Economic Bloc at Safari Park Hotel on Monday 24 from 6.30pm. Your input in the consultations towards a regional position on the BBI will be greatly appreciated.”

Kikuyu MP and a key proponent of the Tanga Tanga team, Kimani Ichung’wa, confirmed that he would attend the Panafric meeting. “I have confirmed attendance of the Panafric hotel meeting, which we have organised as leaders elected by the people,” he said. The MP added that he also received an invite to the foundation meeting through Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo, but will not attend. 

“We have made a conscious and deliberate decision that we can and we will present our views to the BBI taskforce, but we will not be party to memoranda to be presented in a rally to a man who is already pushing a war narrative against our people,” he said in relation to a memoranda to be presented during the Meru rally.

“We cannot be invited  to a dinner. We can afford to buy ourselves and present our views to the taskforce directly,” said Ichung’wa.

But Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, who is allied to Kieleweke faction, while dismissing the meeting organised by her colleagues at Panafric, said the idea to hold a meeting was mooted by the region’s leadership for them to craft the agenda to be presented during the BBI meeting in Meru over the weekend.

“My colleagues are just playing politics, we met as a group and agreed that we meet to discuss the region’s agenda just like other regions, Mt Kenya Foundation is only a facilitator,” she said.

Ichung’wa warned that the weekend speeches made in Kajiado and Narok could be a precursor to the infamous “lie low like envelope” narrative and the pre-2007 undertones of 41 tribes against one, whose chief architect was the same.

Champion interests

“It is the same script now being fashioned as 40 tribes against two. I refuse to board that bandwagon of self-seekers using BBI for their own political goals and use it to drive narratives that will give them momentum for their politics of exclusion, ethnic balkanisation, hatred and anarchy,” he said.

The BBI, a product of the March 9, 2018 Handshake, has widened the rift among elected leaders from Mt Kenya region. 

Jubilee Party leaders, who are split in their support for Uhuru and Ruto, complain that the BBI agenda has been hijacked by Raila to champion his own interests instead of uniting Kenyans and re-engineering the country’s socio-political and economic architecture. The BBI has also quickly opened a fresh battlefront for politicians supporting the DP and Raila, who are seen as top contenders in the 2022 State House race.

Mt Kenya MPs have had a similar meeting under the banner “Mount Kenya and Diaspora elected leaders” led by former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri which was used to plot a fight-back on Raila and the BBI agenda.

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