Cracks in Mt Kenya as Kiraitu Muringi disowns Limuru III conference

Cracks in Mt Kenya as Kiraitu Muringi disowns Limuru III conference

Politicians in Mt Kenya East have disowned the planned Limuru III conference that could decide the political direction of Mt Kenya region.

With President Kenyatta leaving office next year, and without a clear heir as the region’s kingpin, the Gema nation heads to the elections a divided house and without a presidential candidate from the region.

The meeting is expected to “anoint” the region’s political kingpin.

Some of the leaders who led negotiations during the Limuru II conference in March 2012, where President Kenyatta was conferred the reins as the Mt Kenya leader before succeeding President Mwai Kibaki, say things will be different “this time round”.

The first conference in Limuru was held in 1966 to confer leadership to founder President Jomo Kenyatta.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who was among those who led the Limuru II conference, yesterday said the Mt Kenya East would not attend the meeting “blindly”. He said leaders from the East should first “negotiate” with those from the West before the meeting.

The governor has been pushing for the formation of a political party for Mt Kenya East, which comprises Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties, saying, the region had been “marginalised”.

Presidential candidate

Last week, he got approval by the Registrar of Political Parties to take over Restore and Build Kenya (RBK), which he has renamed Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP).

“Mt Kenya East will negotiate directly with any potential presidential candidate; we don’t have to negotiate through the West. The relationship between east and west has been parasitic, because some areas have been treated more favourably,” Mr Murungi said.

“The most emotive issue has been skewed development and distribution of resources, where for instance, the Mau Mau roads that are being constructed are only in the west,” he added.

His deputy, Mr Titus Ntuchiu, said they would not be party to the planned conference, adding, the region was busy building the DEP.

“Never again shall we be lumped up with the West. Let it be known that we have our party. The exploitation that has lasted for all those years since independence is now over. We will hold our own conference where we make our decisions as a region,” he said.

“The next President should distinguish between East and West so that if an appointment is made of an individual from Nyeri, it doesn’t appear that Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties have been taken care of.”

The Limuru III conference will be organised by the Mt Kenya Foundation, which has come under criticism for being an “elite club”. The foundation has been accused of usurping its mandate after it organised forums with presidential candidates.

ODM boss Raila Odinga and One Kenya Alliance leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-Kenya) and Gideon Moi (Kanu) held talks with the foundation at Safari Park Hotel.

National Assembly Deputy Majority Chief Whip and Igembe North MP Maoka Maore, who attended Mr Odinga’s forum, said the lobby’s mandate “ended” at Safari Park.

Unnecessary noise

“The foundation facilitated a meeting with the business community in the region and at no time should they ever think they have leverage beyond that encounter. When they say they will propose a name to the President, they are making unnecessary noise,” he said.

The Njuri Ncheke has also said it will not allow Mt Kenya West (Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties) to lord it over the East.

“We’re charting our own political path and we won’t go to Limuru to rubber-stamp a leader whom we’ve not been involved in selecting. Those who are organising this conference should know that the era of choosing leaders for Kenyans is far behind us,” said Mr Josphat Murangiri, who is in charge of operations at the council.

The resolutions from the meeting are expected to impact the campaigns of Deputy President William Ruto, who has made inroads in Mt Kenya as well as Mr Odinga, whose handshake with President Kenyatta is seen by his supporters as part of a political deal in the coming elections.